The McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia today announced a $5 million gift from alumnus John P. Connaughton and Stephanie F. Connaughton to create the Connaughton Alternative Investing Professorship Fund.
A portion of the gift will be matched with $3.3 million from the University’s Bicentennial Professors Fund, bringing the total impact of the gift to more than $8.3 million. The Connaughtons’ gift will enable McIntire to attract and retain preeminent finance faculty members committed to teaching and research in all areas of alternative investing.
The Bicentennial Professors Fund was launched in 2017 to help the University attract and retain top faculty and scholars.
“Since graduating from McIntire, I have seen the extraordinary impact so many of our graduates have had in the business world, and I continue to hear how much they value the role McIntire played in their success,” Connaughton said. “McIntire embodies a commitment to excellence in everything it does. The leadership, the faculty and the programs set the gold standard for business education, and we are highly motivated to invest in its future and support its continued success.”
The Connaughtons’ gift serves as the founding contribution to the McIntire Alternative Investing Initiative, a new endeavor that will support and institutionalize a rigorous academic and experiential educational program that explores business through the lens of alternative investments – referring to investments outside of stocks, bonds and cash, such as private equity, hedge funds or commodities.
“The alternative asset space will become an increasingly significant area of study,” Connaughton said. “It has the potential to continue generating highly attractive returns and will remain a vital segment of the active asset management industry. Understanding and commanding the unique drivers of alternative investment strategies and models will become a critical skill for future commerce students.”
Through the McIntire Alternative Investing Initiative, the school aims to shape the undergraduate and graduate curricula in this field, attract academic scholars and industry professionals, and offer real-world experiences that expose students to a wide variety of career opportunities. In addition, the initiative will support an ambitious research agenda and facilitate the exchange of ideas between the world’s leading investment professionals and scholars.
“The Commerce School community is very grateful to John and Stephanie Connaughton for this extraordinary gift that ensures McIntire’s ability to prepare our graduates for success in an extremely dynamic and attractive area of study,” Carl Zeithaml, dean of the McIntire School of Commerce, said. “With the support of our very successful alumni across industries including private equity, venture capital and hedge funds, we intend to offer one of the foremost alternative investing programs in business education.”
Based in Boston, John Connaughton is co-managing partner of Bain Capital, a leading global alternative investment firm with $105 billion in assets under management; Stephanie Connaughton is a senior adviser to a variety of consumer startups following her long career in marketing at Gillette (later P&G).