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A Month of Departures

The Sun is reporting that University CIO James Walsh has tendered his resignation, effective at the end of June.

“After 3 1/2 interesting and enjoyable years at Cornell and in Ithaca, my family and I have decided to return home to the United Kingdom,” Walsh said in the release. “Cornell is a wonderful place. I have had the honor to work with a great group of talented and dedicated people, and I’ve learned a lot during my time here that I will apply to new endeavors in the U.K. I also feel proud to be leaving a stronger and more professional Investment Office than the one I found when I arrived.”

In the statement, Walsh also reported that the University’s endowment performance is up about 10 percent so far this year, after suffering a more than 25 percent decrease in fiscal year 2009. In the midst of the bleak financial situation that engulfed the nation in 2009, the statement noted that the University’s “endowment successfully avoided many of the liquidity problems that affected those of its peers last year.”

“Working with the Investment Committee, James helped the University weather the downturn and begin to regain much needed equilibrium in its investment performance,” President Skorton said in the statement. “I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Skorton might as well have added, "And don't let the door kick you on the way out."

While the press release is padded in good will, the performance is obvious: while Cornell lost 26.4 percent of its investments in the last fiscal year, other peer schools, like Columbia and Pennsylvania, lost less than 20 percent.

Remember, when Walsh was first hired, he was aglow in the opportunities of hedge funds and commodities. That didn't turn out so well for us. Walsh also was offered a first year salary of $400,000, not counting any incentive bonuses. We wonder if there were any clawback provisions to his contract for subsequent poor performance.

Curiously, when MetaEzra first learned of a departure that turned out to be that of Doris Davis, our thoughts initially turned to Walsh.

But now we can report that we also know of one other high-level departure coming down the pike as well...

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on February 17, 2010 (#)

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