Columbia University Endowment Has 2.3% Investment Return

Columbia University reported a 2.3 percent return on its endowment investments in fiscal 2012, topping results at Harvard University and Stanford University.

Columbia’s endowment value as of June 30 was $7.65 billion, the university said today in an e-mailed statement. That’s down from $7.8 billion a year earlier because withdrawals to fund operations were made at a rate that exceeded the investment return, Brian Connolly, a Columbia spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Endowments and foundations had the worst returns of any class of institutional investor in the year through June, gaining 0.37 percent, consulting firm Wilshire Associates said in an Aug. 6 report. Harvard, the world’s richest school with an endowment of $30.7 billion, reported a 0.05 percent loss on its investments, while Stanford posted a gain of 1 percent.

Yale University, the second-wealthiest school, produced a 4.7 percent return, the most so far this year among the eight Ivy League colleges in the northeastern U.S. Over 10 years, Yale had an annual return of 10.6 percent, topping Columbia’s 10.4 percent performance.

In fiscal 2011 and 2010, Columbia was the Ivy League’s top performer, with returns of 24 percent and 17 percent, respectively. Those gains came after a 16 percent loss in fiscal 2009, in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Princeton University, Cornell University and Dartmouth College have yet to release their results.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lisa Wolfson in Boston at lwolfson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lisa Wolfson at lwolfson@bloomberg.net

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