Posted 10:32 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021

Thanks to a donation from Andy Temte, ’88, and Kaplan Professional in La Crosse, UWL’s new Kaplan Finance Lab is providing College of Business Administration students with transformative, real-world learning experiences.

UWL’s Kaplan Finance Lab inspires tomorrow’s investors

Andy Temte, ’88, had an excellent college experience — one that propelled him to a successful career as CEO of Kaplan Professional in La Crosse.

All that was missing from his time at UWL was hands-on learning opportunities; back then, courses were mostly “chalk and talk at the front of the room,” he says.

However, Temte has ensured that current and future UWL business students will receive plenty of real-world experience. Under his direction, Kaplan’s donation to the College of Business Administration paved the way for the new, state-of-the-art Kaplan Finance Lab in renovated Wittich Hall.

The space, equipped with computers displaying up-to-the-minute stock market information, allows students to manage both real and simulated investments.

“There used to be this mindset where you could only be successful in the investment field if you graduated from an elite college in the middle of a big financial center,” Temte explains. “But the guys and gals from the Midwest are just as smart as those kids from Boston, New York or Tokyo. I wanted to bring that high-level finance expertise to La Crosse and build a center for excellence right here at UWL.”

This is the 50th year of the College of Business Administration. Interim Dean TJ Brooks says the Kaplan Finance Lab will help position the college for the next half-century.

“It’s a great platform that will allow us to launch forward,” Brooks explains. “A big part of the future will be wealth management, and the Kaplan Finance Lab will be very useful for the types of technology students will see out in the real world.”

The lab is already being put to good use. 

Assistant Professor Adam Stivers' Investment Analysis and Portfolio Management course regularly meets in the lab. They plan to use the Telemet software, a terminal containing investment and economic data, for a group project on wealth management this semester.

“Finding, accessing and using financial data is not something you can teach students using a textbook or exams,” Stivers notes. “Students must get the hands-on experience with an investment platform or terminal, such as the one we have in the lab, in order to carry this skill with them moving forward.”

The lab, and the transformative education happening there, was made possible by a $50,000 donation by Kaplan in the early 2000s. While the project failed for years to get off the ground, the donation sat in the stock market, accruing value. When it was finally time to build the lab, the fund had swelled to $375,000.

Planting the seed for the Kaplan Finance Lab is far from Temte’s only contribution to the CBA and its students.

Temte taught finance courses at UWL earlier in his career at Kaplan, which started in 1999 when Kaplan acquired a company he helped create, the Schweser Study Program for the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Exam. He has led Kaplan Schweser and additional professional career advancement programs at Kaplan ever since.

He also personally funded three scholarships annually for nearly 20 years to cover the cost of students taking the CFA exam.

Temte’s connections to UWL came in handy as Kaplan worked to recruit new employees. UWL students often interned with the company and made strong first impressions, setting them up for jobs upon graduation.

The UWL students who went on to work at Kaplan all had one thing in common, Temte says — a desire to learn by doing.

“We would consistently get individuals with that sponge mentality,” he says. “They’re not content to sit back and let their employment experience happen to them — they want to get involved. I think that comes directly from the cultural environment that’s been created at UWL, getting involved and being part of a robust community.”

The Kaplan Finance Lab is designed to harness that same sense of ambition and curiosity among students today and in the future. 

Even if a student has limited experience with business or finance, Temte says, he hopes the lab will draw them in.

“You’re going to have students from all walks of life, all sorts of backgrounds, go by this room and wonder what happens in there,” he says. “That’s going to spark creative juices inside that individual that walks away and says, ‘That looks interesting from the outside. Let me get in and see if it’s right for me.’”

Read more stories from the December eLantern.