(Annie Bui / Sun Managing Editor)

(Annie Bui / Sun Managing Editor)

October 8, 2015

Endowment Return Rate for Fiscal Year ’15 Plummets

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Cornell announced Thursday that its endowment climbed to a record high of $6.3 billion during the 2015 fiscal year, up from $6.2 billion at the end of the last fiscal year.

Despite the record-breaking endowment figure, the University earned a return rate of 3.4 percent on its endowment this fiscal year — a sharp decrease of 12.4 percent from fiscal year 2014, when Cornell earned a return of 15.8 percent.

(Annie Bui / Sun Managing Editor)

The graph above shows endowment return rates for Cornell and its Ivy League peers in FY15. Not pictured is Columbia University. (Annie Bui / Sun Managing Editor)

Cornell came in with the lowest return rate for the 2015 fiscal year compared to its Ivy League peers, excluding Columbia University, which has yet to report its returns. Peer institutions that hit return rates in the double digits include Princeton University and Yale University, with 12.7 percent and 11.5 percent, respectively.

Dartmouth College and the University of Pennsylvania trail behind with reported returns of 8.3 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively.

The Ivy League institution with the second-lowest return thus far is Brown University, which came in at 5.7 percent. Harvard University barely edged out Brown, posting a return rate of 5.8 percent.

Cornell’s largest returns for the 2015 fiscal year come from private equity, real estate, hedge funds, domestic equity and enhanced fixed income, according to a University press release. Additionally, gains from investment totaled $192 million and gifts amounted to $188 million.

Chief Investment Officer A.J. Edwards said in a press release that despite “challenging market conditions,” cash distributions occurred “at a strong pace” and the University continues to make “new commitments” across multiple areas.

“The continued improvement in our overall financial position should provide an opportunity to manage the risk and liquidity of the portfolio with a focus on long-term investments offering attractive return potential,” Edwards said.

4 thoughts on “Endowment Return Rate for Fiscal Year ’15 Plummets

  1. Given the vigorous debate that occurred at the University Assembly meeting last year between E. J. Edwards and David Shalloway, I am wondering how our investments in the energy sector(s) did.

  2. That’s pathetically bad. In a generally up market, they are hardly keeping pace with standard inflation. With such a large alumni talent pool in the wealth management and banking industries, why don’t they just close down the endowment office, save that staff cost, and have some proper investors do it for them for a fee?

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