Mark Schmid, CIO of the University of Chicago endowment, will be honored with Chief Investment Officer’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the seventh annual Industry Innovation Awards on December 12 in New York City.
Past winners include Notre Dame’s Scott Malpass, the Teacher Retirement System of Texas’ Britt Harris, Strategic Investment Group’s Hilda Ochoa-Brillembourg, and NISA Investment Advisors’ Jess Yawitz and Bill Marshall. Last year, the title was awarded to Rick Dahl, the newly retired CIO of the Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System.
Although Schmid has only been at the University of Chicago since 2009, his asset-owning career spans three funds over three decades. As CIO at Chrysler and, afterward, Boeing, he led efforts to reduce risk through liability-driven investing.
This experience leading large corporate pensions continues to inform his current role as investment chief of U. Chicago’s $7.6 billion endowment. “We’re managing the endowment with the long-term needs of the university at the forefront, as opposed to trying to hit a certain return,” Schmid explained in a 2012 interview.
Rather than fully embracing the Yale model as many endowment peers have, Schmid and his team at the university have developed an investment strategy that focuses primarily on risk. The “total enterprise” approach takes into account the university’s total leverage, charitable gifts, and capital plans—as well as factors such as liquidity, convexity, and leverage.
Along with garnering respect within the nonprofit space for his unique approach to endowment investing, Schmid has earned a reputation developing investment talent. Upon his departures from both Chrylser and Boeing, the pensions were able to promote from within rather than seek talent elsewhere—and several other of Schmid’s former deputies have gone on to CIO roles of their own.
“Part of my job here is that the management doesn’t have to go outside when I move on,” Schmid told CIO this fall. “I’ve already accomplished that. There are definitely people here who can do this job.”