Who is the Finance Lab for?

EDITOR’S NOTE:The Villanovan would like to apologize for the implied inaccuracies in the following editorial, entitled “Who Is the Finance Lab For?”. The Finance Lab does maintain regular open hours for undergraduate students and has hosted three undergraduate classes this semester. A number of undergraduate students were also included in the reception mentioned. To clarify, the finance lab was made possible through the profits created by entrepreneurial graduate programs of the College of Commerce and Finance and through other contributors. No undergraduate student tuition was used to fund the lab.

Wealthy alums and Wall Street types were on hand Tuesday for the dedication ceremony of Bartley’s Applied Finance Lab and a subsequent reception. While the honored guests milled about with wine and cheese in hand, undergraduates were kept on the outside of the lab – just like they are most days and nights.

The incredibly costly lab has been used primarily for educating graduate students so far. Undergrads in C&F have been doing almost as much looking in from the outside as their non-business classmates. This minimizing of the new fixture’s potential raises an obvious question: Who is this room for, anyway? Surely, the sleek, three-paneled monitors and scrolling stock feeds wow touring parents and prospective students. And attendees of Tuesday’s festivities certainly seemed duly impressed. But since most business students have yet to set foot inside the lab, it seems impractical to funnel so much money into it.

Particularly wasteful are the live Bloomberg and Reuters feeds, which will cost the University tens of thousands of dollars a year to maintain. Since students have been prohibited from actually managing their stock portfolios while in the lab (and it’s frightening that said rule is actually necessary), the feeds are completely unnecessary. Up-to-the-minute stock news is available all day long on half a dozen cable news channels – at no additional charge.

The same visiting families who become enthralled by the lab may find themselves a little confused when they later reflect on their tour as a whole. Before their day on campus, they heard the University described as an institution that prides itself on providing top-notch education in the liberal arts. But after being hurried past stuffy Tolentine and herded into gleaming Bartley, they must conclude that the University seems a better fit for those aiming for a business career, in terms of classroom aesthetics and comfort. And they’re right. While Villanova’s arts and science classes are second to none, they convene in places that don’t do justice to their quality. Consider some Mendel science labs or Falvey’s television production studios – both lack adequate equipment. Or, visit the Center for Peace and Justice Studies, which sits not 50 yards from Bartley, underground, with a huge beam spiked through the middle of its lone classroom.

It can’t be argued that the Applied Finance Lab doesn’t make a striking addition to our campus’s appearance. But it’s crucial to remember that every dollar spent here should be spent to better the lives of the students, not bolster the school’s selling points. In Bartley’s newest room, the computers are already whirring and the market figures are already rolling in. It’s too late for a refund – but it’s the perfect time to refocus.