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Cornell CIO Starting Salary: $400k/year

This may be of interest to all of you navel gazers out there…

MetaEzra has obtained freely available government data concerning H-1B visas which indicate that Cornell’s recently hired Chief Investment Officer, British national James Walsh, was offered a starting salary of $400,000 a year to manage Cornell’s $5 billion dollar endowment.

But before people start begrudging Walsh’s high salary (easily that of three or four full professors or enough to provide 10 undergraduates with full scholarships), consider this: Walsh’s salary appears to be a really good bargain compared to some of his peers: For instance, Harvard recently paid its top money manager $7.2 million dollars for an endowment of $20 billion – 0.036% of the total endowment. Walsh, in comparison, only earned 0.008% of Cornell’s $5 billion dollar endowment last year.

There is one caveat, however: Due to the nature of the data, there is no indication of whether or not Walsh has any incentive clauses in his contract, such bonuses could increase his pay substantially.

At any rate, it appears that Cornell’s endowment is in good hands under Walsh. In the first quarter of 2007, Cornell’s endowment posted a 5.8 percent gain, besting the fund’s “benchmark” index by close to 4 percent.

Now let’s just hope that Cornell’s money managers aren’t making any highly leveraged bets on subprime mortgages, a la Bear Stearns.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on July 10, 2007 (#)

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