James Rippey '53, co-founder and former president and director of Columbia Management Company and Columbia Trust Company, came to the University of Oregon from the small coastal town of Coos Bay. Over the next decade he would continue his education at New York University and become one of the pioneers in the mutual fund industry.
For more than forty years Rippey served the investment industry. He and his future partner, J. Jerry Inskeep, Jr., were both executives at Merrill Lynch when in 1961 they established their own broker-dealer firm together. Over the next forty years Columbia Management Company would grow into a firm with $22 billion under management.
Throughout its history, Columbia Management Company has distinguished itself in the investment community. In 1967 the Columbia Growth Fund was created--Oregon's first mutual fund. In 1974 the Columbia Daily Company was established as one of the first money market mutual funds in the nation. The Columbia Trust Company and Columbia Funds Management Company were introduced in the 1980s.
Rippey joined the mutual fund industry at a time when there were only a handful of funds in existence. Today there are more than 7,000 mutual funds of which Columbia offers fifteen. In 1994 Rippey stepped down as the firm's chief investment officer. Then in 1997 Columbia Funds Management Company, Columbia Management Company and Columbia Trust Company became indirect, wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Fleet Financial Group of Boston, Massachusetts and he stepped down as president.
Rippey credits the UO's college of business with providing him the education he needed and pointing him in the right direction. "The business education I received at the UO opened up avenues to me I didn't know were there," he said. "My time at the university benefited me in so many ways over the years, and at the time it really opened my eyes to what was possible."
"The mutual fund industry is a wonderful business to be in," he said. "Today there are no barriers and you can have clients all over the world. It is the kind of business that Oregon should really be trying to push. I have certainly enjoyed and benefited from the industry over the years."
In addition to his commitments to Columbia, Rippey has held leadership roles in the community through his involvement with the Providence St. Vincent Hospital and Medical Center Foundation, the Portland Rotary Charitable Trust and the University of Oregon Foundation, among others.