Columbia Endowment Reports 9.0% Return for 2018

Investment gains were lowest among any Ivy League endowment.

Columbia University endowment’s investment portfolio returned 9% in fiscal year 2018, down from 13.7% in 2017, and below that of any other Ivy League school endowment this year. The total value of the endowment rose to $10.9 billion as of the end of June, up from just under $10 billion at the same time last year.

Columbia was the last of the Ivy League schools to report fiscal 2018 returns, and despite having the third-highest among them last year, was last behind Princeton’s 14.2%, Brown’s 13.2%, University of Pennsylvania’s 12.9%, Dartmouth’s 12.2%, Yale’s 12.3%, Cornell’s 10.6%, and Harvard’s 10%.

However, the endowment was still ahead of Cambridge Associates’ median return of 8.3% for colleges and universities. It also reported 10-year annualized returns of 8%.

Columbia University’s endowment consists of approximately 5,500 separate funds established over time for a wide variety of purposes. It includes permanent endowments, term endowments, and funds designated by the board of trustees to function as endowments. Its investments are managed by The Columbia Investment Management Co., which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the university, and is run by CEO Peter Holland and CIO Tim Donohue.

Although Columbia Investment Management Co. doesn’t provide details on asset allocation, according to the university’s 2018 financial report, the endowment’s investment strategy is intended to produce performance that exceeds each asset class’ relevant indices while assuming a moderate level of investment risk.


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