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Tozzi Center, trading floor dedicated at Business School

When John R. Tozzi was a student and president of the Business School's Finance Club in the late 1960s, he and his classmate, the late David Alger, conducted their first stock trades in a first-floor phone booth.

"We were two of the original day traders," says Tozzi, who graduated with distinction with an MBA from the Business School in 1967. Tozzi is president and CEO of Cambridge Investments Ltd. of San Francisco and of Jackson, Wyo., an investment management firm that specializes in the energy industry.

John R. Tozzi operates the technology at the Business School’s new John R. and Georgene M. Tozzi Electronic Business and Finance Center, while (l. to r.) Georgene, John C. and Meaghan Tozzi and computer systems specialist Kai Petainen look on at the Oct. 25 dedication. (Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)

On Oct. 25, the Business School dedicated the much larger, state-of-the-art John R. and Georgene M. Tozzi Electronic Business and Finance Center in the Electronic Education and Resources Building. The 5,800-square-foot facility includes a new financial analysis and trading floor classroom, a flexible and wireless electronic classroom and an E-lab seminar room. It is equipped with the latest in live financial data feeds, information services, research tools and trading tools that allow students to experience the look and feel of a trading floor environment.

Members of the Tozzi family attending the dedication included John and Georgene; their son, John C. Tozzi, who earned an MBA with distinction from Michigan in April; and their daughter-in-law, Meaghan. John R. and John C. Tozzi are members of the international business honor society Beta Gamma Sigma, and John C. Tozzi heads up Cambridge's real estate division. The Tozzis also have a daughter, Courtney, who is vice president of Cambridge Investments, and a son, Robert, a graduate student working toward his degree in oriental medicine and acupuncture in Colorado.

Tozzi expressed appreciation for his Michigan education, acknowledging four professors he worked for as a Business School Robert G. Rodkey Fellow: Douglas Hayes, C. James Pilcher, Thomas G. Gies and Sidney L. Jones. "It was their Midwestern values, ethics and business acumen that set the foundation for a business career that has enabled us to participate in a state-of-the-art financial and educational center that will hopefully differentiate Michigan and serve as a model for other business schools," he said.

University Architect Susan Monroe, whose design contributions to the Tozzi Center were acknowledged at the dedication, explained later that John Tozzi "selected the space for the center because of its high ceilings and wonderful views to the immediate campus landscape. He emphasized this in our initial meeting, as well as his desire to have the wiring concealed, all in the stated interest of creating a calm backdrop for the high pressure activity.

"Georgene Tozzi requested furniture with sleek lines, again to lend support for an 'unbusy' background environment. The waves in the ceiling, the curves in the floor plan and the cool, metallic finishes juxtaposed with warm, soft colors were developed in response to Tozzis' requests by University Interior Designer Renee Garno and myself. The Tozzis were involved in the fine-tuning and ultimate approval of the final scheme," Monroe said.

Tozzi, a member of the school's Visiting Committee, and his wife founded Cambridge Investments in 1981. Previously, he was a founding partner and member of the executive committee of Montgomery Securities. Prior to that he was a member of the Institutional Department of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and a member and manager of the Institutional Department of Lehman Brothers.

In addition to upgrading the school's ability to teach investment financing, the Tozzi Electronic Business and Finance Center symbolizes the Business School's commitment to action-based learning, Dean Robert J. Dolan said. He thanked John and Georgene Tozzi for the $2 million gift that made the new center possible and for the technical expertise they provided in designing the facility.

Richard G. Sloan, the Victor L. Bernard PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP Collegiate Professor of Accounting and Finance, developed the school's financial analysis and trading curriculum and will teach the first classes offered in the Tozzi Center in January. Sloan said the simulated trading floor, with its networked workstations, teleconferencing system, dedicated feeds for real-time information from global markets and the latest financial services, is better than a Wall Street trading floor because students have access to the latest securities research, investment banking and asset management tools.

"It is more than a trading floor. It is structured very carefully to function as a classroom and to serve important educational goals," Sloan said.

Daryl Leach, Student Government Association president, thanked John and Georgene Tozzi, noting, "You have set a very high watermark for student and alumni expectations for the future."

Following the dedication, Tracy Akresh, a second-year MBA student and co-president of the school's Investment Club, said, "Students are really excited about this gift. It will make a huge difference. The Tozzi Center bridges theory and practice and will give students practical experience and background in equity research."

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