Accounting Professor Laurie Mitchell first brought the concept of a student investment fund to the University of Redlands in 2006. Having seen similar groups on other campuses, she thought Redlands students could benefit from the experience of investing and managing a real portfolio.
“She knew such a fund had potential to be life-changing for students, and it afforded hands-on experiences that would better prepare them for life after Redlands,” says Chris Mitchell, Laurie’s husband. She passed away in October 2019.
“She saw education as a continuous process and not just students learning from faculty. She wanted students learning from one another and learning by doing,” says Chris.
After three years of working with a mock portfolio, the Redlands Student Investment Fund (RSIF) received seed money, including a leadership gift from Laurie and Chris (who also taught a capstone class with Laurie’s leadership in the Accounting Department) followed by contributions from several members of the University’s Board of Trustees and others. Within a 10-year period, mostly under Laurie’s advisement, the students turned $100,000 into more than $158,000.
Laurie helped create the format of the weekly RSIF meetings, which typically begin with a discussion of current news and possible effects on investment opportunities. Meetings also include an educational segment, reviewing the basics of investing terms and concepts, as well as pitches, in which students propose an investment based on their own research. After a pitch, the group votes to decide whether or not to buy.
“Laurie not only provided the structure and funds, but most importantly, her passion,” says Mike Bosman, the fund’s current advisor and an adjunct faculty member. “It is my honor to continue her great work for the University and our students.”
Alec Pililian ’17, a recipient of the RSIF scholarship made possible by the fund’s growth, is grateful for Laurie’s many contributions: “Laurie was there every week to advise the RSIF and thoughtfully advised dozens of students on their careers. She had a positive impact on many lives, including mine.”
Francis Press ’14, an early RSIF president, agrees: “If she had not had the generosity and devotion to set it up, none of us would have had the experience we were so fortunate to have. The fund was the number-one thing discussed in all my interviews since college and has had a profound effect on my life.”
Laurie’s impact is further leveraged through the RSIF’s recent partnership with Kiva, a nonprofit microlending organization that offers small loans to help people in impoverished areas start businesses. By working with Kiva, the fund’s students may earn Community Service Activity course credits.
To honor her legacy, the University has chosen to name the program the Laurie Mitchell Redlands Student Investment Fund. “We were incredibly touched,” says Chris. “It is a deservedly remarkable gesture for a remarkable woman.”
To make a gift to the Laurie Mitchell Redlands Student Investment Fund, please call the Development Office at 909-748-8050 or visit www.redlands.edu/givenow.