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A key donation to the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Student-Managed Endowment Fund (SMEF) has pushed the available investment fund balance over the $1 million mark.

The gift of nearly $105,000 was given by UWO alumnus Thomas Brinkman and Antoinette Candela Brinkman in honor of the 20th anniversary of the SMEF program. SMEF provides hands-on investment management experience to undergraduate students.

All SMEF investment decisions are made by student participants under the supervision of Stephen Huffman, UW Oshkosh finance professor with a CFA designation.

College of Business Dean Barbara Rau said the college is committed to providing profound personal and professional development for its students, providing employers with the assurance that students understand what it means to be a professional.

“Experiential learning programs like SMEF give students the opportunity and incentive to practice due diligence in researching and evaluating real issues,” Rau said. “They learn how to engage in honest and meaningful conversations that lead to decisions, knowing that those decisions carry weight because of their impacts on real people. That stress is very different than the stress of a simulated environment and offers yet another opportunity for personal and professional growth.”

Brinkman, who graduated from UW Oshkosh in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in economics, spent his career as a real estate investor. He married Antoinette Candela, who graduated from Mount Mary University and began work as a fashion buyer. Together, they blended their careers and settled in Oshkosh.

Their original $25,000 donation kick-started the UWO SMEF program in 2000 and continues to provide students with a scholarship based on a percentage of the assets under management (AUM) in the fund.

As of Jan. 22, the Brinkman Fund’s portfolio had grown to over $170,000 in AUM, moving it to the second-largest portfolio within the seven portfolios in the SMEF program.

“We are excited to offer congratulations to the students, professors and fellow donors of the SMEF program,” Thomas Brinkman said. “It is exciting to see the fund crest the $1 million mark and see these UWO undergraduates continually outperform professional investors.”

The gift helps advance a unique program that gives students invaluable hands-on experience, said Bob Roberts, UW Oshkosh vice chancellor of University Affairs.

“Not only does the gift from the Brinkmans help students with their education and experience in finance, it also helps SMEF provide scholarships to deserving students,” Roberts said. “We thank the Brinkmans for their generosity that will assist UW Oshkosh as we prepare our students to be our future leaders.”

Tim Mulloy, chairman of the UWO Foundation Board, said his board is grateful to the Brinkmans for their donation. The mission of the Foundation is to match donors with the opportunities they are passionate about to support unique programming like SMEF.

The SMEF program not only offers a progressive learning environment for UW Oshkosh students, but also provides five scholarships exclusively for SMEF participants and seven scholarships for university students.

Over 20 years, the SMEF program has provided over $315,000 in scholarships and fees.

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