In A Possible Sign of Recovery, Harvard Endowment Starts Hiring

The Harvard endowment has been lambasted by critics for an illiquid investment strategy and an overly ambitious infrastructure expansion plan, but in possible signs of a turnaround at the world’s largest university endowment, hiring has started once again.


(August 12) – The hiring of two investment managers at a university endowment might seem trivial in times such as these, but at Harvard – long looked to as both best-in-class and the bellwether of university investing – such moves, to many, may signal a change in strategy and a possible recovery for the world’s largest university endowment.

Emil Dabora, formerly of New Jersey-based Caxton Associates, has been hired as an equity portfolio manager at the Harvard Management Company (HMC), which manages Harvard’s endowment both internally and externally. At Caxton, Dabora “founded and led” an event-driven portfolio team, according to a release from the university. Also hired was Michele Toscani, formerly of the Fortress Investment Group’s Japanese arm. At Harvard, Toscani will manage an international fixed-income portfolio.

Toscani’s hiring might signal a return to form for the battered endowment. Although HMC had an intense and active fixed-income desk under former chief Jack Meyer and his two superstars Maurice Samuels and David Mittleman, its bond exposure was significantly decreased by Meyer’s successor Mohammed El-Erian. This was done, El-Erian has said, to reduce the reliance on any single team or strategy after Meyer departed acrimoniously in 2005 along with a large portion of the fixed-income division to start Boston-based Convexity Capital. However, as the financial collapse engulfed investors worldwide, Harvard’s decreased fixed-income exposure left it more exposed than it might have been just five years earlier.

At the very least, the move to hire more managers ends what has been an ongoing trend at HMC. Having fired upwards of 30 of its 150-member staff in the past year, the move will be seen by many as a sign that the endowment is once again on more stable footing. Because it has for so long been sui generis in its field, such moves will be watched with interest across the endowment – and, indeed, institutional – sphere.

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To contact the <em>aiCIO</em> editor of this story: Kristopher McDaniel at <a href=''></a>