Alum Jay Genzer Supports Whitman School's Orange Value Fund, giving students hands-on investment experience
December 13, 2011
Jay Genzer ’88 received an engineering degree from the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science, but he was always involved with investing and developed a true passion for it. The New Jersey resident was drawn to New York City’s financial district, where he ran a successful hedge fund business. So when Genzer wanted to give back to SU, the Orange Value Fund program (OVF) at the Whitman School of Management presented a logical fit.
The Whitman School and the Ballentine Investment Institute at Syracuse University created the OVF in 2006. A select group of Whitman undergraduate students, together with the fund’s board of directors, make investment decisions using real money. The rigorous, two-year program allows students to take graduate-level classes for academic credit, perform thorough research on potential investments, write professional research reports, and manage the OVF portfolio.
“We are deeply grateful to Mr. Genzer for his generosity toward the Orange Value Fund program,” says Fernando Diz, director of the Ballentine Investment Institute at the Whitman School and managing director of The Orange Value Fund. “This program was created to ensure that any graduate would be highly sought after for employment by the best firms in the financial services industry, and we are well on our way to achieving that goal.”
Genzer, who has made significant gifts to the program since its inception, believes it’s the perfect curricula to help students expand their knowledge base and develop critical skills in a hands-on environment. With a particular focus on New York City’s financial district, a portion of Genzer’s giving will expand the OVF “road shows,” which bring the students to investment houses for the presentation of their investment ideas, networking and recruiting.
The OVF program and its road shows are impressive too. “I’ve seen great write-ups about it in financial magazines, excellent portfolios created, and most important, many of the kids going through the program land jobs on Wall Street,” Genzer says. “For undergrads to basically have an MBA-like experience is a real testament to the program’s quality, and with my love of stocks and investments, it’s the best way for me to give back.”
“Jay Genzer sets a wonderful example of the impact one can make simply by giving in support of one’s passion,” says Jeffrey Sperber, executive director of development for the metro New York region. “He deeply values the need for real-world, experiential learning, and Genzer’s gifts to the Orange Value Fund have helped contribute to its increasing success.”
Genzer believes SU’s location affords students unique opportunities too, being close enough that they can drive down and visit the city, but far enough away for a completely different experience on the main campus. In addition, he’s impressed by SU’s mix of New York City immersion programs and study abroad opportunities. “Immersion programs give students a better sense of the real world, and they’re especially beneficial here in the financial district,” Genzer says. “SU has a great mix of offerings, and students should take full advantage of them.”
Immersion programs are undoubtedly beneficial, exposing students to true professional environments, but Genzer’s greatest college lesson came out of a traditional classroom. “What you learn is great, but the best thing SU taught me was how to learn,” he says. “It was the process of learning and developing an ability to change with the times, as opposed to just studying and memorizing things.”
Genzer attributes much of his professional success to that learning process. “I went from being a person who built computers, to writing computer programs, to creating stock plans through my hedge fund,” he says. “You have to recognize how the world is changing. Transforming myself from thinking about computers, to companies, to the economy helped me make wise investments and become successful.”
He commends all of the schools and colleges for the exceptional work they’re doing and the quality education each one provides. “I interview students from all over the country for my hedge fund jobs, and I’m so impressed by the caliber of those from SU,” he says. “The Whitman School in particular has had incredible growth over the years, and the students just keep getting better. It makes me very proud to support them, and to show my appreciation to SU.”