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Released March 20, 2003

By Christopher Mapp

HATTIESBURG - The scene at The University of Southern Mississippi's new student-trading room Thursday might not have matched the New York Stock Exchange as far as chaos – no screaming day traders, no paper littering the floor.

But it was every bit as functional as the state's first student-trading room linked students in "real-time" with the world's major exchanges.

Patterned after major trading floors like the NYSE, the trading room houses computers powered by the latest software that provides current data, news and quotes on a global scale.

Dr. Michael Melton, director of the Southern Miss Center for Financial Services, said the new facility was designed to enhance students' education with a real-time environment. "They are now able to see markets globally interact," he said.

"Real-time news and data have allowed students to make more sound investment decisions," Melton said. "Our students are gaining invaluable experience with derivative securities such as options and futures."

Located on the first floor of Joseph Greene Hall, home of the College of Business Administration, the new room is adorned with two television sets and trading-zone clocks showing times in London, Frankfurt, Chicago, Tokyo and New York. In the lobby of Greene Hall, a series of stock prices now streams across the new ticker that was funded by contributions from Bill Hudson, CEO of Hudson Salvage.

Finance students at Southern Miss can now watch in real time as the open-market operations relate and interact globally. For example, Melton said students can see how the Japanese market influences the New York Stock Exchange and vice versa.

The ability to research stocks in the new trading room should be a boon to finance students managing the $100,000 gift donated by the Southern Miss Foundation last year, said Dr. William Gunther, dean of the College of Business Administration.

"When we teach kids about the real world, it helps if we can mimic it as closely as possible," Gunther said. "That way, when they're ready to leave here, they can hit the ground running."

Melton said: "We're managing real money from the university and with the trading room, we can make more sound decisions. In the old days you had to work with yesterday's information; now we have state-of-the-art equipment that will make their decisions that much better."

Graduate student Derek Daughdrill, also the assistant director for CFS, said that with the ability to watch movements of the market from "minute to minute," the facility is "a full-fledged trade-floor, just like the NYSE."

And as the NYSE did Thursday, finance students watched the markets jump as jittery investors reacted to the start of military operations in Iraq. Daughdrill said the new trading room would allow them to better understand how markets fluctuate during times of war.

Representing Primerica, a division of Citigroup that helped fund the trading room, Mike Landrum was on hand to watch students eagerly explore their new amenities.

"You're not going to find anything like this in the country, much less the state," said Landrum, a former Southern Miss football player who enjoyed a three-year career with the Atlanta Falcons before entering a successful career in finance. "This will provide students real business training while they're getting their education."



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July 16, 2003 9:46 AM