By: Grace Lyden
FARGO – CHS, the country's largest agricultural cooperative, announced a $2.5 million grant to North Dakota State University on Wednesday, March 23, to establish an endowed chair in risk management and trading.
"This provides students with literally a cutting-edge education and professional preparation that is available nowhere else in the country when it comes to agricultural commodity trading," NDSU President Dean Bresciani said. "It means that the day they walk off the graduation stage, they are ready to walk onto an active trading floor."
William Wilson, an NDSU distinguished professor of agribusiness and applied economics, will be the first chair holder.
The position and its related programs will help more students learn about a crucial element of commodity marketing, said officials from the energy, grains and foods company.
"Managing risk and volatility, particularly in the times that we're in today—that's one of the biggest challenges that our farmer-owners have," said Linda Tank, senior vice president of communications and public affairs.
Although NDSU has a long history of teaching agricultural trading and risk, Bresciani said this gift would allow that instruction to expand and stay current, particularly with evolving technology.
"We've got a brand-new spectacular trading room here. In two or three years, it's going to be an old, out-of-date trading room," he said. "The equipment will need to be updated and refreshed."
The commodity trading room in downtown Fargo's Barry Hall opened for classes in fall 2012 and has more than 30 computers with live access to global commodity market information, Wilson said.
Wilson envisions new classes and scholarships coming out of the donation, as well.
"It will allow us to teach material that we have not previously been teaching, and it will allow us to teach more students," which is important, because companies such as CHS are in need of commodity traders, he said.
"There aren't very many universities in the country that have specific majors related to commodity trading," said CHS marketing communications director Annette Degnan.
At a luncheon to celebrate the gift, Bresciani said this is also a step toward his goal of putting NDSU in the elite Association of American Universities. In October, he said NDSU would need to pursue "substantial increases" in endowed chairs to achieve that status.
And endowed chairs include more than the chair holder, he said Wednesday.
"It's that person leading the program; it's additional faculty we're able to hire; it's scholarships at the undergraduate and graduate level that we're able to offer; it's making sure the equipment stays cutting-edge," Bresciani said. "We want this to not only be established as the leading program in the nation for agricultural commodity trading but stay in that position as well."