From the UConn Foundation's Our Moment newsletter (June-July 2012)
Peter '63 and Judy LarsonPeter Larson '63 (member, UConn Alumni Association) made his life's work the art of finding investment opportunity in the financial sectors, particularly in small-cap investments that often were not obvious to others. Now retired from a long and successful career, he continues to practice that craft by advising and mentoring students participating in UConn's Student-Managed Fund (SMF).
UConn basketball season ticket holders since 1963, Peter and Judy Larson also support both the Division of Athletics and the School of Business in their philanthropy, which is guided by similar principles to the ones that Peter followed in his career: look for opportunities for growth.
"What we've tried to do over the years is give to where we can have some impact," he says. "UConn is rewarding to support, and I think we get more out of giving locally. From our perspective, creating the scholarship fund has worked out very well, and we hope we can continue to add to it over time. Once you start giving, at any level, you find that it's very rewarding to help others."
In working with today's students, Larson believes that what he observes at UConn now is "light years" ahead of what he experienced as a student himself. However, he says that some of the traits for success in investing remain timeless.
"I think the most important thing for students and investors alike is a sense of curiosity. It's certainly helped me in my career; I was interested in a lot of things, many of which provided opportunities for investment," he says. "There's an analytics side as well, of course, and a lot of nuance to the business, but I think that a willingness to seek out and learn about things you don't know about is very important, at school and in business."
As an advisor to the SMF, Larson guides the students in the School of Business as they oversee the investment of $2.4 million of the University's endowment. The program gives both undergraduate and graduate students the rare opportunity to apply concepts they learn in the classroom to real-life valuation, and is a joint effort between the UConn Foundation, School of Business, Department of Finance, and the Investment Fund Investment Advisory Board (IAB), which includes Larson and other successful School of Business alumni who have worked in the investments field.
"I enjoyed my career in investments, and the experience of trying to help students today learn about the business is great. I can pass along what I think they should know before they enter it as a career," he says. "If I can bring something to the table that helps UConn students come to terms with what will help them succeed, it is useful for them and actually fun for me."
He says that the growth of the University has impressed the whole family, including two of his four children (David '90 and Richard '89 '92 '00) who also attended UConn.
"Certainly, we've seen the physical growth of the University, and academically as well. I think that will continue. And at one year in, President Herbst has been impressive. It seems to me that UConn can only improve from here, and there's a sense of pride in that all alumni can have."
To support the School of Business, please contact the Foundation's development department.