The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Masters Investment Learning Center

The Masters Investment Learning Center (Masters ILC) in the Haslam Business Building was funded entirely through the generosity of private donations. It occupies a very visible, high-profile space in UT's newly renovated business school complex and provides the college with a facility offering real-world market investment experiences through venues such as Bloomberg terminals.

Mission of the Masters Investment Learning Center

Our mission is to promote and facilitate business education and research through experiential learning. We strive to provide educational opportunities and enrichment activities for our students, faculty, and professional community.

Vision of the Masters Investment Learning Center

To fulfill our mission, we will provide a state-of-the-art facility which includes cutting-edge technology. We will teach skills and provide education to enhance career opportunities for students and faculty throughout the Knoxville campus. Recognizing that corporate outreach is an extremely valuable part of business education, we will increase interaction between students, faculty, and the business community.

Masters ILC Opportunities

The Masters Investment Learning Center (Masters ILC) offers several prestigious fellowship opportunities for graduate students, including the Beauchamp E. Brogan Fellowship, the Venable Family Investment Fellowship, and the A. David Martin Investments Fellowship, which permit graduate students the opportunity to work part-time in the Masters ILC as graduate Masters ILC Ambassadors. Fellowships are highly competitive and are awarded on the basis of academic achievement, extra-curricular activities, and volunteer services. Dr. Laura Cole is the Masters ILC graduate fellowship advisor and she can be contacted at

Each fall and spring semester, up to three undergraduate students are selected to work part-time in the Masters ILC as undergraduate Masters ILC Ambassadors. Masters ILC Ambassadors assist with teaching Bloomberg software to over 100 students, assisting faculty in various research endeavors, and giving tours of the center to visiting investment professionals. Selection as an ambassador is highly competitive. The position requires a minimum overall GPA of 3.5, completion of FIN 301 (or 307) and 425 courses with an “A”, and a recommendation from a college of business professor. Students must be able to work two consecutive semesters prior to graduation in order to be considered. Dr. Laura Cole is the director of the Masters ILC and she can be contacted at

The profiles for past Masters ILC Ambassadors are here.

The Finance Executives International (FEI) local Knoxville chapter selects two undergraduate and two graduate students as FEI Interns each fall semester. Internships are awarded on the basis of academic achievement and community involvement. FEI Interns attend the monthly dinner speaker meetings and meet with senior finance and accounting executives, including CFOs and Controllers from Ruby Tuesdays, Regal Entertainment, Mastercraft Boat Co., Jewelry Television, Radio Systems Corp, Kimberly Clark Corp., Alcoa, Bush Brothers & Co., Clayton Bank & Trust, Bank of America, in addition to many other local finance, accounting, and investment firms. The FEI Knoxville chapter also offers an annual scholarship to juniors and seniors in accounting or finance awarded each spring semester. Dr. Laura Cole is the FEI liaison and she can be contacted at

The profiles for past FEI interns are here.

Bloomberg Acknowledgement Training and Research

Providing access to Bloomberg data terminals, the Masters Investments Learning Center facilitates instruction leading to Bloomberg Acknowledgements. UT students can get acknowledged in equities, fixed income, foreign exchange, or commodities. Both students and faculty gain access to real-time and historical information regarding approximately five million financial instruments on the Bloomberg terminals.

CFA Global Investment Research Challenge

Finance students interact with investment professionals and top firms while getting real-world experience and mentoring. This challenge converges students, investment industry professionals, publicly traded companies, and corporate sponsors together locally, regionally, and globally for a real world competition. The CFA Society of Nashville hosts the local challenge, which includes universities such as Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee State, and Belmont. Each university assembles a team of five undergraduate and graduate students who work directly with a company to research and prepare a company analysis. The teams’ final presentations are locally evaluated by high-profile panels of heads of research, portfolio managers, and chief investment officers from the world’s top firms. Winners from the local competition then advance to regional competitions in the Americas, Asia, and Europe, and then to the global finale. Dr. Alvaro G. Taboada, CFA is the faculty advisor and he can be contacted at

CME Commodities Challenge

Each spring semester, UT assembles up to two undergraduate and two graduate teams of up to 5 students each. This is a two-part competition pitting teams of undergraduate and graduate students from 179 universities and colleges from 26 countries, including Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, MIT, Notre Dame, Penn State, Princeton, Rice, Syracuse, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. In the electronic trading phase, each team is allocated a mock $100,000 trading allowance to buy and sell crude oil, gold, and corn futures contracts. Teams are required to make a minimum of five trades per day using the CQG Trading Platform. After a few weeks of trading, the top 10 percent of teams with the highest trading account balances advance to a final round and compete for cash prizes and internships. In the second phase of the competition, individual students train in the techniques of exchange floor “open outcry” trading. After training, they compete in a simulated futures trading session and are judged by NYMEX/CBOT traders on their ability to fill orders and utilize proper trading techniques. Top individual traders win cash prizes and internships. Dr. Laura Cole is the faculty advisor and she can be contacted at

Torch Funds

A Portfolio Management Opportunity for First Year MBA Students

 The college's Haslam and LaPorte Torch Fund activities are housed in the Masters Investment Learning Center, giving Torch Fund managers unlimited use of the center's resources. Dr. Deborah Harrell is the faculty advisor, and she can be contacted at

UT Investment Group

The UT Investment Group (UTIG) is an active, student-managed organization that is dedicated to improving its members’ understanding of investment management and to helping members develop practical investment skills and test them in the markets. The UT Investment Group provides a forum to discuss and learn about investing, and activities include hosting distinguished local investment speakers at monthly meetings. UTIG hosts a 10-week trading competition, “Battle of the Traders,” where over 100 students compete for cash prizes each semester. Students manage $100,000 mock portfolio and actively trade equities and options and utilize short-selling and various strategies in an effort to earn the highest risk-adjusted return. Dr. Laura Cole is the faculty advisor and she can be contacted at

TVA Investment Challenge

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Investment Challenge is a unique, innovative partnership between TVA and 25 universities in its service territory that provides a real-world learning experience in portfolio management. Students at UT actively manage a portfolio of common stocks by conducting fundamental investment research on individual businesses and are held to similar guidelines as TVA’s professional money managers.  As of August 31, 2013, UT students managed a portfolio of approximately $360,000 on behalf of the Tennessee Valley Authority. The managed funds are a part of TVA’s Asset Retirement Trust Fund, which was established in 1996 to meet the financial obligations of decommissioning the agency’s non-nuclear power units. In addition to real world experience, UT students engage in competition with teams from other participating universities and are competing for prizes awarded by TVA on the basis of performance.

The UT team performed very well in 2013, with a 39+ percentage return, earning a $5,906 prize for the school. UT finished in fourth place for its performance during 2012. Since its inception in 1998, the University of Tennessee has been awarded over $121,000 in prize money, and UT teams have outperformed the S&P 500 for three consecutive years in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Students are selected for the program in both the spring and fall semesters based upon the applications they submit. In order to apply, students must have completed Finance 301 with a C or better and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher in all upper-division business courses. In addition, students must submit the following.

Though not required, students may also submit a letter of recommendation along with their application. Applications are submitted to the staff in the Masters Investment Learning Center (HBB 201) and are generally due by April 1 during the spring semester and November 1 during the fall semester.

Currently, the faculty advisor is Mr. Darren Williams, UT Lecturer and Vice President and Portfolio Manager at Martin and Company Investment Council. For questions about the program, you can contact Mr. Williams at

For further information about the Masters ILC, please contact:

Dr. Laura Cole, Director, Masters Investment Learning Center
Office: SMC 435
Phone: 865-974-1715

Department of Finance ~ 427 Stokely Management Center ~ 916 Volunteer Blvd ~ Knoxville, TN 37996-0540
Phone: 865-974-3216 ~ Fax: 865-974-1716 ~ E-Mail:


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Knoxville, Tennessee 37996 | 865-974-1000
The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System