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Friday, September 11, 2009

My Alma Mater Shows Its Numbers

Not pretty but not as bad as the big boys in Cambridge and New Haven. And of course anyone following this story would now the reason why without reading this article from the WSJ. For those new to this story the reason is highlighted in bolds.

Columbia Endowment Falls 21% .


Columbia University, reporting narrower investment losses than some of its Ivy League peers, said its endowment in the past year declined 21% in value to $5.7 billion.

For the year ended June 30, the New York school reported the endowment had an investment loss of 16% -- less than the 18% drop reported in the median return for big endowments, according to Wilshire Associates, an investment-management consultant. The decline also marked an improvement over the negative-22% Columbia had reported for the first nine months of its fiscal year...

The disclosure comes a day after Harvard University and Yale University each said their endowments, higher education's largest, had declined in value by 30%. Harvard, of Cambridge, Mass., reported an investment loss of 27%; Yale, of New Haven, Conn., didn't disclose its investment return.

Columbia declined to release details of its investment strategy. In the past, the school has devoted a smaller percentage of its funds to alternative investments such as private-equity funds than has Harvard and Yale. Those alternative investments, which had led to strong past investment performance, declined sharply in value in the past year.

Columbia said its five-year annualized return was 8%. The median endowment's annualized return over that period was 2.5%, according to Wilshire, and Harvard's was 6.2%.

"Columbia's investment team has successfully positioned the portfolio to take advantage during the bull market and cushion it as markets significantly weakened this year," said Robert Kasdin, a Columbia senior executive vice president.

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