April 25, 1997

Edited by Bob Arnold


What price the Michael F. Price College of Business? How about $18 million. That's how much Wall Street money manager Price is kicking in to the University of Oklahoma College of Business Administration. Announced on Friday, Apr. 25 by OU President David L. Boren, Price's gift is the largest individual donation made to a public university in the U.S. this year and the third-largest to any school.

Renaming the 74-year old business school in honor of the mutual fund manager is just one aspect of the gift. To be paid over five years, Price's donation will create four $2 million "super chairs" in accounting, finance, management, marketing; two $1 million endowed chairs in international business; and a $500,000 professorship in finance. All of the funds will be matched on a one-to-one basis by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, a state education agency.

In addition, the money will establish a library endowment exceeding $1 million, setup a $1 million scholarship fund to which alumni will be encouraged to contribute, and fund a Student Support Center, which will help to provide mentoring, counseling, scholarship aid, internships, and services to OU business students.

The gift will "really enrich the education of our students," says College of Business Dean Richard Crosie. "The endowment is designed to move our business program into the top 40" B-schools, he adds. Price will also lend a hand in that effort: He'll help monitor OU's B-school performance as chair of a five-member advisory group.

Price earned his BBA at OU in 1973 and has since become one of the nation's most successful businessmen. Known for his "value-investment" style that includes taking stakes in bankruptcies and mergers, Price has increased the value of his mutual funds to over $17 billion. One of his key strategies is to buy enough shares to give him the clout to force a merger or a turnaround. In 1995, for example, Price acquired a 6.1% stake in Chase Manhattan Corp. and prodded the company into merging with Chemical Banking Corp. So far, his funds have earned more than $300 million on Chase alone.

The $18 million isn't Price's first investment in OU. He recently gave $100,000 to create the Student Investment Fund program, which allows OU undergraduate finance students to invest money -- housed in a school fund -- in the stock market. The students are taught to invest in value stocks, or stocks with low price-earnings ratios that are more stable than growth stocks. OU must be praying it works as well for today's students as it has for Price.

By Nadav Enbar in New York

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