By Jonathan Smith, Editor in Chief
For the first time in its history, the university’s endowment climbed above $200 million last week after a $4 million gift came through, said Jack Rich, executive vice president of the university.
After a strong year for donations to the university and investment returns, Rich estimates the endowment will have grown about 14 percent this year, about double what the university estimates to be average returns on an investment portfolio.
Last week, Phil Schubert, vice president for finance, said strong investments helped the university’s total net worth increase to $234 million, which takes into account the endowment, the university’s operating budget and other gifts to the school. However, very little of the funds in the endowment go toward the university’s regular operating costs.
In most situations, less than 5 percent of the endowment is used in the university’s operating budget, which now provides an additional $9 million to $10 million per year. The rest of the money is invested to collect returns — returns that have been strong during the past few years.
Rich said the university’s investment earnings rank among the top 5 percent of colleges and universities around the country.
Another reason for the endowment’s growth, Rich said, has been gifts to the university, largely in part to the $150 million Centennial Campaign that the university is currently in the middle of conducting.
Rich said many donors specify where their gifts go, and unspecified large gifts typically go toward the endowment. During the past year, about $11 million of the endowment’s increase came from gift money.
During the past 11 years, the endowment has increased fourfold from about $50 million in 1994 to $200 million now. During the past three years alone, the endowment has grown by $75 million.
Despite significant growth during the past three years, Rich said he could not know how the endowment would fare this year.
“It’s so dependent on the market and factors that are outside of our control, it’s very difficult to estimate,” Rich said.
But Rich was sure about one fact:
“You can never have too much endowment.