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Fehrs '77 Resigns as Chief Investment Officer

Amidst the news of Skortonís appointment and the new Gates building, the resignation of Donald Fehrs '77, Cornellís Chief Investment Officer, slipped through most everybody's radar. Fehrs resignation marks yet another transition for the upper-level administration, and one cannot help but notice the timing of the announcement so soon after the naming of the University's new President.

Granted, Fehrs' may simply be interested in making a career change. The endowment's performance over the last three years - since Fehrs was appointed CIO - has been admirable, and the trustees should have no reason to complain. At an annualized rate, the endowment grew by close to 16 percent, beating out the broad-based S&P 500, which grew at an annualized rate of approximately 13 percent. But did the administration have any beef with Fehrs?

One would certainly hope not. And nothing stands out as extraordinary in the case of this resignation. Says Executive Fice President Stephen Golding in the Cornell Chronicle:

"Don's contributions to Cornell have been immeasurable," said Golding. "He is a talented leader in the investment field, and he and his investment team have contributed to a period of unprecedented growth for the university. We wish him the very best as he pursues the next phase of his career."

The Sun unfortunately adds nothing to this news story, simply rehashing the press release in the Cornell Chronichle.

Coincidentally, Fehrs' resignation coincided with the release of NACUBO's (National Association of College and University Business Officers) annual endowment study, which reinforces the stellar job. Over a slightly different three year period ending June 2005, Cornell/Fehrs beat out the average all endowments with over a billion dollars in assets by close to five percentage points on a nominal, annualized basis.

The NACUBO study also provides a glimpse into how well Cornell has raised funds for its endowment relative to its peer group. This informative table demonstrates that in FY2004, Cornell's endowment grew at a faster rate than all but four of its peers -- Michigan, Notre Dame, Stanford, and Yale. Of course, even though Cornell's endowment grew faster than Harvard's, this doesn't mean that Harvard didn't add an amount equivalent to Cornell's entire endowment to their very deep coffers last year...

Still, one hopes that the University can find a suitable replacement to Fehrs soon Ė one that can at least match Fehrsí demonstrated successes.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on February 03, 2006 (#)

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