Drexel University’s endowment returned 14.7% for fiscal year 2017 ending June 30, bringing its total asset value to $722 million, and putting it among the top 11% of endowments and foundations based on the Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service.
The university’s endowment has returned 8.15% annualized over the past five years, and 8.05% annualized since 1991. The endowment’s investment pool has $460 million in investable pooled assets, $132 million in directly held real estate, and $59 million in annuities and trusts. It also includes the $69 million endowment of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, which returned 13.3% and consists of $60 million in pooled assets, and $9 million in annuities and trusts.
The university attributed the strong returns to a restructuring by its board of trustees’ investment committee several years ago, which realigned the endowment’s assets, and created a solid asset allocation policy.
“The investment team has a long-term, thoughtful plan to deploy the assets so that over time, the endowment can give more and more back to the University,” said Helen Bowman, treasurer and COO, according to Drexel’s Office of University Communications. “The groundwork that we laid several years ago, to protect and build the endowment, has begun to kick in.”
The Dragon Fund, a small equity portfolio managed by undergraduate students in Drexel’s LeBow College of Business, was one of the top-performing investments for the endowment, returning 26.2%. The fund has returned 12.5% annually since its inception in 2007, and has grown to $2 million from $250,000 during that time.
“Regardless of investment performance, the Dragon Fund will always be a winner, at least in my mind,” said endowment CIO Catherine Ulozas. “Not only do we benefit from the fact that the fund has a positive and continuing performance, but students benefit so greatly from the class and the experience of managing a live portfolio.”
Further details of the fund’s performance have yet to be disclosed.