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FOCUS: Harvard's Endowment

By Claire G. Bulger, Courtney A. Fiske, and Molly M. Strauss, Nones

On December 2, 2008, Harvard President Drew G. Faust sent a letter informing the Harvard community of a 22 percent loss in the endowment. This $8 billion blow comes on the heels of much criticism about Harvard’s spending policies. In light of the recent financial crisis and these pointed questions, it is important to examine and evaluate Harvard’s endowment and fiscal policies. This focus seeks to highlight a diverse array of concerns and suggestions, such as taxing the endowment, environmentally responsible investing, socially conscious alumni donations, and the student body’s role in this new financial climate. The page contains contributions from current students, including the treasurer of the Undergraduate Council, and the alumni founder of Harvard Alumni for Social Action. We hope this focus provides fruitful insights into the workings of the endowment, as well as potential avenues for individual and institutional change.

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