Jacobs Levy co-CIOs endow new finance center at Wharton

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania will create the Jacobs Levy Equity Management Center for Quantitative Financial Research, financed by a $12 million gift from Bruce I. Jacobs and Kenneth N. Levy, principals and co-chief investment officers of Jacobs Levy Equity Management.

In addition, the center is using $2 million of the gift to fund the Wharton-Jacobs Levy Prize for Quantitative Financial Innovation.

Wharton will host the opening celebration for the new center Wednesday night in Philadelphia. Messrs. Jacobs and Levy are Wharton alumni.

The center, financed with $10 million of the gift, plans to focus on innovation in finance, supporting faculty research projects in quantitative finance and funding fellowships for doctorial students pursuing dissertations in quantitative research, Mr. Jacobs said in an interview. In addition, the center plans to offer a white paper series on research hosted on its website, still in development, as well as host annual conferences to bring together academics and practitioners.

“With the markets as tumultuous as they are, there is great need for a greater understanding of finance and financial markets,” Mr. Jacobs said. “We think the need is more pressing for more research to find the answers.”

Research will include focus on global stocks and bonds, and portfolio management, Mr. Jacobs said. “The center is really gearing to find answers to financial problems and … finding out what makes (markets) tick.”

Donald B. Keim, Wharton's John B. Neff professor of finance, will be the director of the new center. Michael R. Gibbons, I.W. Burnham II professor of investment banking and Wharton deputy dean, will oversee the center.

The prize will feature an $80,000 cash award and be awarded every two years, starting next year.

“We sought to create a prize that will make a difference,” Mr. Jacobs said. “This prize isn't just for a paper. This is a prize for financial innovation from peer-reviewed articles that have had an impact on the practice of financial management.”

Details about the prize, including the date of awarding the first prize, criteria for the prize and the formation of the prize selection committee, are still being worked out, Mr. Jacobs said.

Over the next few months, Messrs. Jacobs and Levy also plans to reach out to people in the investment management community to become sponsors of the center to help expand its opportunities for research, Mr. Jacobs said.

Messrs. Jacobs and Levy made the donation to mark their firm's 25th anniversary.