The two newest additions to the committee that oversees Yale’s endowment are a venture capitalist and a successful banker.
Ann Miura-Ko ’98, a co-founder of the venture fund Floodgate and “the most powerful woman in startups,” according to Forbes, has joined the Yale Corporation Investment Committee, along with Wells Fargo Chief Financial Officer John Shrewsberry SOM ’92. The new members, who were first listed in the 2015 endowment report published this month, take the place of long-time committee members G. Leonard Baker ’64 and Stefan Kaluzny ’88, both of whom lead successful private equity firms. Formed in 1975, the Yale Corporation Investment Committee meets four times a year to set the endowment’s allocation of assets. It also approves or rejects investment guidelines proposed by the Yale Investments Office, although the office, along with Chief Investment Officer David Swensen, oversees direct management of funds and the implementation of the strategies discussed by the committee.
“I am grateful that [Shrewsberry and Miura-Ko] have joined other accomplished alumni with special investment expertise in service to the University,” University Provost Ben Polak told the News. Polak declined to comment further, noting that he does not comment on individual appointments to the committee. Swensen declined to comment on the new appointments, and neither Shrewsberry nor Miura-Ko could be reached for comment.
The committee, which usually has between 10 and 12 members, always includes at least three Yale Corporation fellows. The current Corporation members are Kevin Ryan ’85, Paul Joskow GRD ’72 and Douglas Warner ’68, who chairs the committee. The Corporation’s bylaws state that committee members may invite non-Corporation members with investment experience to serve on the committee.
According to William Jarvis ’77, managing director of the institutional investment firm Commonfund Institute, Yale selects new members to ensure the committee represents a diverse range of industries and experience.
“There’s a huge number of people who would love to be on this committee,” Jarvis said. “Swensen has made it clear that there’s a bench [for membership].”
Miura-Ko becomes the second-youngest member currently on the committee, after hedge fund director Carter Simonds ’99. Baker left the committee after 26 years of service because he had reached the University-imposed retirement age of 72. Kaluzny had served since 2010.
Jarvis emphasized that sitting on the committee requires a great deal of time and energy from committee members, who must read extensive reports on the endowment and understand the fundamentals of Yale’s portfolio policy. For example, in June 2015 the committee approved increases in the fixed income target asset allocation from 5 percent to 8.5 percent, demonstrating a renewed trust in assets like bonds. Additionally, the committee approved the separation of the private equity asset class into leveraged buyouts and venture capital.
“It can be a little bit daunting,” Jarvis said of the committee’s responsibilities.
Yale takes advantage of its broad alumni base working in business, economics and venture capital when assembling the Corporation Investment Committee. Smaller institutions and schools with specializations in fields like nursing or art have a harder time finding alumni with investment experience to sit on investment committees, Jarvis said.
“A university with a big, well-established business school … will be able to draw on alumni,” Jarvis said. “Part of Yale’s [investment] success is the result of a very carefully developed network of alumni [and] pedigreed individuals.”
Shrewsberry and Swensen first met through Shrewsberry’s work at Wells Fargo. Shrewsberry has also been active with the Yale School of Management’s advisory board.
While many financial experts credit Swensen with the success of Yale’s endowment, Jarvis said the makeup of the Corporation Investment Committee is also essential in keeping the University’s investments on track. He said committees like Yale’s should have a balance of older members who have a long institutional memory and younger members with expertise in emerging industries.
The Yale Corporation Investment Committee is composed entirely of alumni from the private sector, with the exception of Salovey, who holds ex officio status. Yale’s in-house and alumni-based investment management structure is unique among other U.S. colleges and universities.
Yale’s 11.5 percent endowment return for fiscal year 2015 was well-above the average national endowment return of 2.4 percent. The 2015 Yale Endowment Report, released earlier this month, underscored the importance of entrepreneurial and venture capitalist alumni in keeping Yale’s venture capital assets performing above the market average.
According to a 2015 study of endowments from the National Association of College and University Business Officers and the Commonfund Institute, 43 percent of the 812 institutions studied said they have substantially outsourced their investment management to external firms and consultants.
“The use of outsourcing has been increasing for a number of years,” the study said. “84 percent of the study population reported using a consultant for various services related to investment management.”
Shrewsberry becomes the second current committee member who did not graduate from Yale College.