NYU Appoints Michelle Knudsen as CIO of $5.9B Endowment

The investment chief is moving from the Mellon Foundation. 

Michelle Knudsen. Photo: Camila Falquez for the Mellon Foundation

New York University announced on Tuesday that it had appointed Michelle Knudsen as the new CIO for the organization’s endowment, succeeding Kathleen Jacobs who stepped down from the role in October to become CIO at RWJBarnabas Health.  

Knudsen’s appointment will be effective at the end of June 2024.  

“We look forward to welcoming Michelle Knudsen to NYU,” said Traci Lerner, NYU Trustee and chair of the board’s investment committee in a press release.  “Her selection was the outcome of a thorough, global search, and we are thrilled to have her joining us. She impressed the Search Committee with her intellect, creativity, energy, and insight.  We believe she will make an enormous contribution to NYU as both our CIO and as an engaged member of our community.”  

Knudsen is currently a senior portfolio manager of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, an $8.1 billion foundation which provides grants supporting arts and culture, higher learning, humanities and public knowledge, where she managed the endowment’s investment analysts.  

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The NYU endowment had $5.9 billion in assets as of August 31, 2023. The fund has returned an annualized 7.1% over the past 20 years. Distributions from the endowment provide 4% of NYU’s operating budget.  

“NYU’s endowment is among the 30 largest university endowments; the resources it provides are incredibly important to the University and require an especially qualified and talented professional to be our CIO. In Michelle, we have found such a person,” said NYU Executive Vice President Martin Dorph in a press release. “She brings excellent experience to the position and impressed me and members of the Investment Committee with her insights, her understanding of NYU’s needs, and her team management skills.”  

Prior to her role at the Mellon Foundation, Knudsen was the head of absolute return and credit strategies at Partners Capital LLP, where she worked for nine years. Previously, she was also an investment analyst at Goldman Sachs. Knudsen holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Stanford University.  

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