Blackstone Poaches Brown’s Joe Dowling

Chair of university’s investment office tapped to co-lead firm’s $78 billion alternative asset unit.

Blackstone has named Joseph Dowling, the chair of Brown University’s Investment Office, as its new global co-head of Blackstone Alternative Asset Management along with John McCormick, effective Tuesday.

Dowling, who also served as Brown’s vice president and CIO from 2013 to 2018, has been a key part of the growth of the endowment, which has been among the top-performing universities in the country in recent years. Since July, Dowling has been serving in a part-time role at Brown as chair of the investment office and senior adviser to Brown President Christina Paxson.

Brown’s endowment returned 12.1% for the fiscal year that ended June 30 to raise its asset value to a record high of $4.7 billion, marking the fourth consecutive year the endowment posted returns higher than 12%. The portfolio returned 12.4% in 2019, 13.2% in 2018, and 13.4% in 2017. During that time, the asset value of the portfolio rose 34%, and over the last decade, the endowment has produced $3.2 billion in investment gains.

Brown said its investment returns rank among the top 5% of college and university endowment results over trailing one-, three-, five-, and 10-year periods. In the Ivy League, Brown is No. 1 over the one-, three-, five-, and seven-year periods.

“Joe’s contributions to Brown speak for themselves,” Paxson said. “Brown has led the country in endowment performance the past two years and ranked among the top endowment performers in higher education nationally the past several years.”

During Dowling’s tenure as CIO, Brown’s endowment grew to $3.8 billion from $2.6 billion and produced more than $1.7 billion in investment returns. The endowment also contributed more than $1 billion to Brown’s operating budget during that time.

In July 2018, Dowling became CEO of Brown’s Investment Office while Jane Dietze was tapped as its new CIO. Dowling also served as interim chief financial officer (CFO) of the university from May 2019 until January 2020.

Blackstone Alternative Asset Management invests in primarily liquid and semi-liquid investment strategies for institutional and retail investors. While the firm mostly allocates to hedge funds, it has also diversified into newer businesses including special situations, general partner stakes, liquid alternatives, and equity capital markets. Dowling will oversee all investment activities of the unit, which has $78 billion of assets under management (AUM).

Prior to joining Brown, Dowling was the founder and CEO of Narragansett Asset Management, where he managed funds for institutions, pension funds, and endowments. Dowling has also worked for First Boston, Tudor Investments, and Oracle Partners. He has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in business administration from Harvard University.

“Joe has a leading track record in allocating capital, investing directly, and building tremendous teams,” Blackstone President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Jon Gray said in a statement. “We believe that the combination of Joe and John will enable us to expand into new areas and deliver even better returns for our investors, while maintaining our focus on downside risk, a hallmark of BAAM’s business.”

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