Harvard’s endowment sees sharp decline

Harvard’s endowment fell nearly 30 percent in the last fiscal year, Harvard University’s management company said Thursday.

Harvard’s endowment was reported to have fallen from $36.9 billion to $26 billion, the company said, necessitating the loss of 275 staff jobs and a freeze on salaries at the university. Despite the drop, the Harvard Management Company President and CEO Jane Mendillo said the long-term performance of the endowment remains strong, with a five-year annualized return of 6.2 percent and a 10-year return of 8.9 percent. Mendillo blamed the fall on outside forces that affected the entire economy.

She added that Harvard has used the endowment drop as a way to rethink the school’s investment plans.

“In navigating the past year’s storm, we developed greater financial flexibility, strengthened our investment team, sharpened out focus and positioned both HMC and the endowment to be robust, steady and, importantly, poised to benefit from growth in the world’s economies,” Mendillo said in a statement.

The decrease in Harvard’s endowment is not out of step with declines at other Ivy League schools. Yale’s endowment fell 30.4 percent, and Brown University’s fell nearly 27 percent.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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