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Cornell's Endowment Return: 24.2 Percent

A quick glance through today's New York Times will reveal an article about the the skyrocketing endowment returns at colleges and universities across the country. Yale continues to lead the world with a 28 percent return between July 2006 and July 2007:

The Yale Endowment has had a 17.8 percent average annual return over the last decade, beating Harvard, its nearest rival in size, by 2.8 percentage points. During that 10-year period, Princeton came closest to Yale, with a 16.2 percent return.

The second-best-performing school last year was Amherst College, which generated a 27.8 percent return, to raise its value to $1.7 billion. Generally the larger university endowments do better than the smaller ones, according to data compiled by the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

Among the top 10 performing endowments last year, Notre Dame, Duke, Michigan, Virginia and Northwestern all had returns over 25 percent. Notre Dame came in third behind Yale and Amherst at 25.9 percent.

And what about our fair Cornell? A recent publication by the University's investment office reports that Cornell's endowment returned 24.2 percent for fiscal year 2007, up there with the rest of the pack. Cornell's endowment now stands at 5.12 billion dollars. And it beat Harvard's endowment in terms of percentage growth:

Harvard, which has been in the news lately because of the sudden departure of its investment chief, Mohamed A. El-Erian, posted a 23 percent return, bringing its endowment to $34.9 billion.

Still, it's important to remember that even though Cornell's endowment grew at an impressive rate, Harvard and Yale's endowment are so much larger that their endowments grew by an amount equivalent to Cornell's entire endowment.

Of course, these are all returns as of June 30th, 2007. How any of these endowments have performed during the financial roller-coaster ride of the summer months remains to be seen... I hope that none of them have made some foolish investments in the subprime mortgage backed-securities market...

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on September 28, 2007 (#)

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