May 28, 2012

A.J. Edwards Named Cornell’s Chief Investment Officer

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Confirming a report leaked to a news outlet last week, Cornell announced Tuesday that A.J. Edwards, the University’s former interim chief investment officer, was named its chief investment officer.

“I am humbled by the confidence placed in me by President [David] Skorton, Trustee [Donald] Opatrny and the entire Board of Trustees,” Edwards said in a University press release. “I look forward to continuing the work we have done together over the last year as we look to Cornell’s sesquicentennial and beyond.”

The Board of Trustees approved Edwards’ appointment at its meeting Friday — the same day the private market news site peHUB reported that “a source with direct knowledge of the appointment” came forward with news of the new CIO.

In partnership with the Board’s investment committee, Edwards will direct investment officers who stand guard over Cornell’s $5.3 endowment, according to the University. He will also oversee risk management within the University’s investments and make recommendations about asset allocations to the committee.

Edwards began serving as the University’s interim CIO in May 2011 after Cornell’s former CIO, Michael Abbott, abruptly stepped down from his position. Edwards, who was, at the time, senior investment officer for the University, was chosen to “take over Abbott’s responsibilities until the University names a replacement,” The Sun reported in May 2011.

Top administrators and University trustees lauded the decision to appoint Edwards CIO, citing his track record over the past year.

Edwards’ “skillful management” of the investment office and “close and effective work with the investment committee of the Board of Trustees” was integral to Cornell maintaining its strong recovery from the recession, President David Skorton said.

“His ongoing record of accomplishment and well-established skills will hold us in good stead for the future,” Skorton added.

In the course of his year as interim CIO, Edwards also improved the “internal investment decision-making process” in the office, according to the University.

Although it is unclear why Abbott departed the University, shortly after Abbott stepped down, Tommy Bruce, vice president for University communications, said in an email that it had become apparent that Abbott’s “style of conducting business is inconsistent with Cornell’s policies and expectations.”

In contrast, Trustee Donald Opatrny ’74 recently described working with Edwards as “a pleasure.”

“We have gained from his leadership of the investment office. The entire investment committee looks forward to continuing our fine working relationship for Cornell’s benefit,” Opatrny said to the University.

Original Author: Akane Otani