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Tom Basso '74 & Brenda Russell-Basso

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Invest in the Future by Investing in Education
Adapted from the Spring 2009 E2E Newsletter

Tom Basso ’74 points to his engineering education and the lessons he learned as a member of the Clarkson campus community for preparing him for success in the wider world. “Clarkson has a unique culture that combines high academic standards with a nurturing and open environment,” says Tom. “This provides a fertile training ground for the development of certain skills that are necessary for success in life.”

For Tom those skills include self-confidence and personal responsibility. “As a young person at Clarkson, I developed confidence and a sense of responsibility through my work in the classroom as well as on the basketball court,” he says. “Hard work, problem solving, self-reliance — these qualities translate into success whether on a math quiz, a basketball court, or in the global marketplace.”

Tom is the former CEO of Trendstat Capital Management Inc., a money management firm, which he founded in 1984. At its peak, the Scottsdale, Arizona-based investment firm managed $600 million in hedge funds, currencies, futures and mutual funds for clients worldwide. Tom published a number of books on investing, including Panic Proof Investing. He was also one of the successful traders featured in the book The New Market Wizards: Conversations with America’s Top Traders.

Tom is a firm believer in the transformative nature of education. He credits his chemical engineering, mathematical and computer background for his ability to develop a wide range of investment programs to take advantage of financial markets. “I brought an engineer’s viewpoint to investment and money management,” he explains. “The basic logic and problem-solving skills that I learned in Process Engineering 101 can be applied to anything in life, especially investing.”

Tom’s technical background also contributed to the company’s pioneering development of computer technology to facilitate and process trades. Brenda Russell-Basso agrees with her husband about the enduring value of education. She also believes that education is not just something you do in college, but is a lifelong commitment. “We don’t grow old; we get old when we stop growing,” she says. “Tom and I are always interested in pushing ourselves and in learning new things. So helping young people grow and learn is natural for us.” Brenda holds a master’s degree in education and spent many years teaching music at the elementary school level. Years ago, an interest in real estate set Brenda on a new career path. Today, she teaches real estate education to brokers and aspiring brokers across the country. While the subject matter changed from music to real estate, Brenda’s pleasure in and commitment to education never has. For the Bassos, an investment in education today is an investment in the future.

Anatomy of a Gift
Tom and Brenda made a gift commitment to the E2E campaign on the occasion of Tom’s 35th reunion. Their gift plan uses many of the methods available to Clarkson supporters. First, Tom and Brenda gave outright to the Clarkson Fund and to the new Student Center construction project. “We visited Clarkson last fall and after speaking with the students about what they believed were the priorities, we decided to support the new Student Center,” says Tom, who also gave two seminars, including one on alternative careers for engineers, during his campus visit. The Bassos then funded a charitable-remainder trust with proceeds from the sale of a company Tom co-owned. In addition, Tom created a donor-advised fund that he will use for future giving to the Clarkson Fund and other priorities at Clarkson over the next few years. Finally, they have provided an unrestricted testamentary gift from Tom’s estate.

Are you thinking of a charitable remainder trust and would like to contact someone confidentially who has already created a charitable trust with Clarkson? Tom would be happy to answer your questions about the process and Clarkson’s service. Click to contact Tom.