Endowment Up 21 Percent
Investments boost endowment to $22.6 billion
Harvard Management Company, which invests the University endowment, reported a return of 21.1 percent for the year ended June 30, 2004, which, along with private donations, helped Harvard add to its previous high of $19.3 billion, set a year prior.
With its announcement yesterday, the University became just the second non-profit organization to report an endowment in excess of $20 billion, joining the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at the top of the non-profit world, according to a survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Jack R. Meyer, the management company president, said he knew of no other large endowment which had performed as well as Harvard’s in fiscal 2004. He said preliminary figures indicated Harvard had far surpassed, by 17.1 percent, the median return among the nation’s 25 largest university endowments.
Most of Harvard’s peer institutions have yet to publicly release their endowment figures for fiscal year 2004, but the University is sure to remain billions of dollars ahead of even its nearest competitors. Yale University maintains the second-largest endowment in higher education, with a market value last reported at $11 billion.
Harvard’s gains were once again propelled by particularly strong returns in the fixed-income sector. Maurice Samuels and David R. Mittleman, the University’s bond managers whose salaries in excess of $34 million ignited a public outcry last year, are sure to be well compensated again this year for their performance.
But while Mittleman exceeded his benchmark in domestic bonds by a similar margin as last fiscal year, he and Samuels will see a smaller paycheck after the management company board voted in March to lower its maximum compensation below last year’s top salaries.
In interviews yesterday, Meyer and University President Lawrence H. Summers both declined to comment on the compensation issue, which has plagued the University for nearly a year.
“For the past nine months, I’ve talked about nothing but compensation,” Meyer said. “I think one day a year ought to be devoted to performance, and I think today’s the day.”
University officials, who have known the endowment figures for some time, were clearly delighted with the management company’s performance.
Summers said the large gains would allow the University to focus on its stated priorities, including the campus expansion in Allston and greater financial aid programs.
Meyer said the management company had celebrated the new endowment numbers with ice cream at a “fiscal new year’s eve party” in their Boston office over the summer.
But both men struck a cautionary tone, predicting endowment returns would not remain as high in years to come.
Meyer made the same warning in his annual report of investment results last year.
“This time I mean it,” he said yesterday, citing a rise in the number of competing hedge funds.
The University’s total endowment reflects the management company’s investment returns as well as gifts made to the endowment and principal paid out to Harvard’s many schools.
The Harvard Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, voted to increase payout from the endowment by 4 percent for the current fiscal year after threatening no increase at all.
Harvard’s schools rely on endowment payout for 31 percent of their income, according to the University. The Faculty of Arts of Sciences, in particular, receives roughly half of its income from the endowment.
Ann Berman, vice president for finance, said endowment payout for next fiscal year will be determined in October or early November.
—Stephen M. Marks and Lauren A.E. Schuker contributed to the reporting of this story.
—Staff writer Zachary M. Seward can be reached at email@example.com.