Penn, Cornell Lag Behind Other Ivy League Endowments

The Pennsylvania and New York schools returned 3.4% and 1.9%, respectively, in 2020.

The investment portfolios for the endowments of the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University returned 3.4% and 1.9%, respectively, for the fiscal year ending June 30—putting them at the bottom of the Ivy League rankings by a large margin.

The performances lag far behind the other Ivy League schools that have reported fiscal 2020 returns, such as Brown’s 12.1%, Dartmouth’s 7.6%, Harvard’s 7.3%, and Yale’s 6.8%. Columbia and Princeton have yet to report their 2020 fiscal year returns.

Penn’s return helped raise its total assets by $228 million during the year to $14.9 billion. The endowment reported three- five-, 10-, and 20-year annualized returns of 7.5%, 7%, 9.3%, and 7.5%, respectively, ahead of its benchmark’s returns of 5.9%, 5.3%, 8.2%, and 5.3%, respectively, over the same time periods.

Cornell’s 1.9% return, which it said was in line with its benchmark, wasn’t enough to prevent its asset value from declining to $7.2 billion from last year’s record $7.3 billion. The portfolio’s three-year annualized return was 5.9%, compared with its benchmark’s three-year annualized return of 5.4%.

“We managed through the crisis while meeting payout requirements and maintaining a long-term orientation,” Kenneth Miranda, Cornell’s CIO, said in a statement.

Private equity investments were the top-performing asset class for Cornell, earning 17.8% for the year, while core fixed-income investments returned 9.4%. Equities, including public and private equities, returned 7.4%. Resources was the worst performing asset class, losing 14%, while enhanced fixed-income investments were down 4.9%.

“The environment in the first half of the fiscal year was relatively supportive for the key risk markets in which the university makes long-term investments,” Miranda said. “This changed dramatically in the second half, as COVID-19 spread across the globe, exerting an enormous impact on a broad array of industries, asset classes, geographies, and markets.”

Related Stories:

Brown’s Endowment Is Killing It

Yale Endowment Returns 6.8%, Duke’s Shrinks by $100 Million

Harvard’s Endowment Returns 7.3% for the 2020 Fiscal Year

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