Instinctive Givers: Renee Haugerud and John Murphy

Instinctive Givers: Renee Haugerud and John Murphy

By Chandra Harris-McCray

With more than 40 addresses in two decades, Renee Haugerud said “my second sense kicked in.” Coming to Chattanooga to live with her husband John Murphy “just felt right.”

Those same deep-seated instincts emerged when the couple decided to contribute $1.5 million to develop the Renee Haugerud and John H. Murphy Global Finance Center in the College of Business at UT Chattanooga. They also have given $500,000 to support the UTC football program.

“Here in Chattanooga, we met the right people at the right time,” Haugerud says. “We believe in UTC and its ambitions.” Haugerud is founder and chief investment officer of Galtere International Fund, a $2 billion commodity hedge fund based in New York City.

“Many people may not realize just how good UTC and the Chattanooga community are,” says Murphy, a former Mocs football player and 1982 UTC graduate. “UTC is a great university that embodies great traditions.”

UTC appreciates Haugerud and Murphy as well. Athletics Director Rick Hart says, “Renee and John are special people who have a passion for making things and people better.”

The Renee Haugerud and John H. Murphy Finance Center will offer innovative programs with a focus on globalization, global finance, ethics, and brain chemistry. While the center will serve all business students, its faculty and staff will keep in mind the needs of UTC’s female business students.

“The chemistry and psychology of the male and female brain are different, so I think it is necessary to create a trading school that thinks and teaches outside the box so female students can be just as successful in the world of finance and business as men are,” says Haugerud, one of the few women to head her own hedge fund. “The finance center will focus on teaching trading from a right brain perspective, incorporating the best of emotional intelligence and IQ, so that all portfolio managers have the skill set to produce superior returns.”

The global finance center also will include a live financial trading facility where students will be able to use the same tools as finance professionals.

“I always have thought outside of the box when it comes to training and education,” says Haugerud, who knew from a young age she wanted to leave her mark in the business world.

She attended several universities—one of which was on a world-traveling, seagoing vessel—before she focused on the University of Montana where she earned a degree in forestry. After creating a never-before-seen profit center in foreign and domestic sunflower seeds when she worked at Cargill, a multinational corporation based in Minnesota, Haugerud went on to international postings in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Hong Kong. Today Haugerud is at the helm of Galtere, the largest female-owned hedge fund in the world.

“Geography is destiny,” says Haugerud, who spoke at UTC’s spring 2009 commencement. “In the trading world, I always say pretend that a billion dollars is yours and take the risk and own it. Let the trade carry you away.”

It was a football scholarship that carried Murphy away from his hometown of LaGrange, Georgia, to attend UTC. He pursued a career in hospital management and subsequently spent 20 years at AXA Financial in retail distribution. Now he is chief development officer at Galtere.

The couple says they are called to give back to places that have influenced them and made a difference in their lives. “For us, UTC is that place,” Murphy says. “We consider it an honor to be able to give back.”