Yale Investments Office Senior Director Dean Takahashi ’80 SOM ’83, who helped to develop the “Yale Model” for endowment management, will leave his current post to focus on combating climate change, University spokeswoman Karen Peart confirmed Monday.
Since joining the Investments Office in 1986, Takahashi has worked closely with Chief Investment Officer David Swensen to create a new investing model that grew the University’s endowment to one of the largest across the country. The duo spearheaded Yale’s investment into alternative assets — such as private equity and hedge funds, rather than public equities and bonds — and created a new prototype for nonprofit funding. As a result, Yale posted an average annual return of 11.8 percent from 1998 to June 2018, almost double the 6.8 percent average return of college endowments overall.
While the details of Takahashi’s future plans remain unclear, Takahashi said he will remain at the University “to do all [he] can to combat climate change.” In a statement to the News, Takahashi said he will continue teaching and developing new approaches to reducing greenhouse gases. He added that he will miss his close working relationship with Swensen the most and noted that the chief investment officer is “absolutely the best leader, investor and friend.”
“Through my work on carbon offsets, I have become increasingly convinced of the urgent need for more technologies to reduce carbon emissions at low cost and large scale,” Takahashi said. “With the endowment portfolio in excellent shape and the investment team top-notch and ready, I feel compelled to do all I can to combat climate change.”
During his decadeslong tenure at the Investments Office, Takahshi helped train investors who now manage endowments of other major universities and nonprofits, such as Princeton University, Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of Pennsylvania.
The Yale Investments Office currently has nine directors and 13 other investment professionals below Swensen and Takahashi. For years, Takahashi was seen as a potential successor to Swensen, whose cancer diagnosis in 2012 raised questions about the future of the office. According to Swensen, there are no plans to fill Takahashi’s position as senior director at this time. Yale’s endowment will be “well served by the depth and experience of the existing leadership team,” Swensen explained.
“Dean’s intellect, enthusiasm and creativity contributed mightily to Yale’s pioneering approach to managing endowment assets, which benefited not only the University, but also higher education in general and institutional investors of all sorts,” Swensen told the News. “In turning his efforts to combating climate change, Dean will employ his extraordinary energy and considerable skills to make the world a safer place for our children and our grandchildren.”
Swensen and Takahashi are Yale’s two highest-paid employees. In 2015, Swensen and Takahashi earned $4.2 million and $3.2 million, respectively.
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