The markets had a great 2014, and university endowment funds went along for the ride.
Besides the average return of 15.5 percent posted by college investment funds, according to the NACUBO Commonfund Study of Endowments, none of the 20 largest funds changed its leadership. That stability demonstrates just how well investments are working.
NACUBO analyzed the endowment funds of 832 U.S. colleges and universities that have $532 billion in combined assets. The rising returns allowed 74 percent of the institutions surveyed to say they had increased spending from their endowments to 9.2 percent of their budgets from 8.8 percent the previous year.
(See also the lists of top endowment funds from 2013, 2012 and 2011.)
NACUBO notes that the percentage gains for the endowment funds do not equate to investment returns. Instead, the percentage change reflects the net impact of:
- Withdrawals to fund institutional operations and capital expenses;
- The payment of endowment management and investment fees;
- Additions from donor gifts and other contributions;
- Investment gains or losses.
In addition the market value of real estate and other illiquid assets is estimated and can change quickly.
Check out the top 20 richest colleges of 2014: the biggest endowments.
$5.5 billion, up 14.3%
2013 Ranking. No. 20: $4.8 billion
The Rice Management Co. continued its growth under CIO Allison Thacker and COO Ronald Long. Returns for each of the last three years have been greater than 10%.
19. Cornell University
$5.8 billion, up 11.7%
2013 Ranking. No. 18: $5.2 billion
CIO A.J. Edwards continues at the helm the school’s Office of University Investments, a position he has held since 2012.
18. University of Virginia
$5.9 billion, up 15.1%
2013 Ranking. No. 19: $5.1 billion
Lawrence Kochard, CEO and CIO, and Kristina Alimard, COO, keep the school’s Investment Management Co. running smoothly.
17. Washington University in St. Louis
$6.6 billion, up 17.5%
2013 Ranking. No. 17: $5.6 billion
Kimberly Walker has been the Investment Co.’s CIO for almost nine years.
16. Emory University
$6.6 billion, up 14.9%
2013 Ranking. No. 16: $5.8 billion
Mary Cahill continues as vice president of investments and CIO for Emory’s funds.
$7 billion, up 16.5%
2013 Ranking. No. 15: $6 billion
Neil Triplett leads the school’s endowment from his position as its president. Triplett first joined the Duke team in 1999 and has been in charge for 16 years.
14. University of California
$7.3 billion, up 15.8%
2013 Ranking. No. 14: $6.3 billion
Jagdeep Singh Bachher was named CIO and vice president of investments in April 2014, and the results show he was a wise choice. Previously, he was an executive vice president at Alberta Investment Management Co., one of Canada’s largest investment fund managers.
13. University of Chicago
$7.5 billion, up 13.1%
2013 Ranking. No. 13: $6.6 billion
Mark Schmid, vice president and CIO, came to the university’s endowment fund from Boeing in 2009.
12. University of Notre Dame
$8 billion, up 17.3%
2013 Ranking. No. 13: $6.8 billion
The Investment Office is led by Scott Malpass, a graduate of the school who formed the Irving Trust Co. on Wall Street before returning to his alma mater.
11. Columbia University