September 22nd, 2011 | University

Harvard endowment almost recovered

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Photo by Alison Griswold.

With its latest endowment report, Harvard appears to have almost recovered from the roughly $11 billion hole the 2008 recession tore in its funds.

Harvard’s endowment returned 21.4 percent in the fiscal year that ended June 30, growing the largest fund in higher education to $32 billion, according to a press release from Harvard Public Affairs and Communications. The gains bring the Crimson endowment just shy of its pre-recession value, which reached an all-time high of $36.9 billion as fiscal year 2008 ended — before the nationwide downturn took effect.

The 21.4 percent endowment return seen by Harvard is in line with the roughly 20 percent returns that experts say they expect college and university endowments to report for the 2011 fiscal year.

If endowment returns continue to match those expectations, the performances of fiscal year 2011 will also mark a drastic improvement from those of fiscal year 2010, when college and university endowments returned an average of 11.9 percent, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers-Commonfund Study of Endowments.

Though Yale has not yet publicized how its endowment fared in fiscal year 2011, Provost Peter Salovey told the News Wednesday that he believes the University is “on track.”

Harvard’s endowment has returned an average of 12.9 percent over the past 20 years, according to Harvard Management Company, the group that handles Harvard’s endowment and related assets.