Ivy endowments increase over 16 percent



While Yale has not yet released its endowment returns for the last fiscal year, numbers will be up if the University follows the trend reflected in numbers already released by its Ivy League counterparts.

Each of the five Ivy League schools that has released its numbers so far — Brown, Cornell, Harvard, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania — has earned at least a 16.1 percent return on its endowment. Harvard, which achieved the highest return this year at 21.1 percent, earned only 12.5 percent in the 2003 fiscal year.

“It was a good year,” Commonfund Institute Executive Director John Griswold ’67 said. “It will help [the universities] return to more normality in terms of being able to put some money back into their endowments.”

The institute is the educational arm of Commonfund, an organization that provides fund management and investment advice to nonprofits, primarily universities.

Yale should probably have a return “somewhere between 15 and 20 percent,” Griswold said. He said out of about a dozen universities nationwide which have released their numbers so far, all have achieved a return of between 12 and 21 percent. The University’s endowment had a return of 8.8 percent last year.

Regardless of Yale’s peformance, Harvard almost certainly will still have the nation’s largest college endowment. It reached $22.6 billion this year, up more than $3 billion over its value in June 2003, according to a Harvard press release. According to the release, Harvard’s return beat out both the median large institutional fund, 16.2 percent, as measured by the Trust Universe Comparison Service, as well as the median performance of the 25 largest university endowments, 17.1 percent.

“Value-added has been significant and we have peformed well relative to peers,” Harvard Management Company President Jack Meyer said in the release.

Through his office, Meyer declined to comment beyond the release.

Yale’s endowment was second to that of Harvard in terms of total value last year, as it has been since the 1999-2000 fiscal year, and, will almost certainly stay in that position. Princeton, third last year, rose to $9.9 billion according to preliminary results, Princeton spokeswoman Patricia Allen said. Yale’s endowment was about $11 billion in 2003.

Penn achieved the second highest return among the Ivies, achieving a return of 16.8 percent, according to the New York Times. The university’s chief investment officer was not available for comment yesterday but its news office said the figures were accurate. Princeton was third of the currently reported Ivy endowments, at 16.5, the Daily Princetonian reported. Brown and Cornell followed at 16.3 and 16.1, respectively, school spokesmen said.

In general, the key for larger university endowments is diversification, Griswold said. He said the stock market did well over the last year, except for the last quarter. Investments in real estate, international markets and natural resources also performed well, he said.

Cornell benefitted from added natural resource investments, investments in emerging markets and real estate investment trusts, Cornell Chief Investment Officer Donald Fehrs said. Fehrs said next year will probably not bring as positive returns.

“We’re hoping for decent performance from the equity markets, but we would not expect them to be as strong as this year,” Fehrs said.

Columbia University and Dartmouth College have not yet finalized their results for that last fiscal year, spokespeople for the schools said.

Yale is expected to release information about its endowment returns soon. In past years, the University generally has released its return value in September.

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