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Students Visit Investor Guru

By Nancy McGillicuddy

A group of East Carolina University business students visited with legendary investor Warren Buffett in November during a trip set up through the College of Business. Sam Tibbs, an assistant professor in finance at ECU, coordinated the trip. The College of Business provided financial support of $250 per student to help defray costs.

Buffett and Tibbs
Sam Tibbs, left, an assistant professor of finance, arranged for students to meet investment guru Warren Buffett. (Contributed photo)

The students toured Buffett’s operations, including the Nebraska Furniture Mart and Borsheim’s, in Omaha and met with Buffett for about three hours to discuss investing and his philosophies on life and business. The group then lunched at Buffett’s favorite steakhouse where he picked up the tab. The group also met with Wallace R. Weitz, another famous value investor and the founder of Weitz mutual funds, which manages more than $7 billion.

Buffett, 75, who was named the second wealthiest man in the United States, is the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

Students said they were impressed by Buffett’s humble nature and his definition of success. Other students commented on one of Buffett’s common business philosophies — that all employees in a business should be treated with the same amount of respect regardless of their position.

“Mr. Buffett isn’t just the second richest man in the U.S. and the greatest investor of all time,” said ECU business student Frank Preto. “He is a great person, with a good heart. He actually cares about people. He showed me that having good ethics and treating everyone fairly would get you far in life.”

Rick Niswander, dean of the ECU College of Business, encouraged the students to follow Buffett’s example of having an extensive knowledge base.

“Mr. Buffett is so broadly knowledgeable,” he said. “Not only about business, but about life. One of the keys to success in life is to be broad. I am firmly convinced that if you can stay broad and not narrow, you will be successful for the rest of your life.”

Niswander said the visit’s educational value was tremendous.

“I do not have the words to express the importance and significance of this visit for our students, our college, and the university,” he said. “Buffett meets with fewer than 25 student groups from around the country including the likes of Stanford, Dartmouth, Chicago, Wharton, Iowa, and Tennessee. We are obviously among some elite company.”

Tibbs said the students were outstanding and that Buffett commented more than once on the quality of the questions asked by the students.

“ It was a great trip and it even exceeded my expectations,” Tibbs said.

10/10/05
This page originally appeared in the Dec. 9, 2005 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at http://www.ecu.edu/news/poe/archives.cfm.