Stanford University, the third-richest U.S. college, plans to name Ken Frier chief investment officer, filling a position that’s been open more than two years, according to two people with knowledge of the hire.
Frier holds the same job at the employee pension plan of Hewlett-Packard Co. in Palo Alto, California, about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from the Stanford campus. He’ll start at the university in August, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the appointment hasn’t been made public.
Frier, 52, a graduate of Stanford Business School, will report to John Powers, chief executive officer of Stanford Management Co., which oversees the $12.6 billion endowment. Endowment board members sought an experienced manager to support Powers after the fund’s investments dropped a record 26 percent in the year ended June 30, 2009, a person with knowledge of the matter said in April.
The chief investment officer’s post has been vacant since February 2008, when Eric Upin left for Sequoia Capital, a venture capital firm in Menlo Park, California. Upin later moved to Makena Capital Management LLC, a Menlo Park money manager founded by Michael McCaffery, Powers’s predecessor at Stanford Management.
Frier joined Hewlett-Packard’s treasury department in 2000 and has run the $30 billion pension fund of the world’s largest personal-computer maker since 2007. He declined to comment, as did David Demarest, a Stanford spokesman. Hani Durzy, a spokesman for Hewlett-Packard, didn’t return a telephone call and e-mail seeking comment.
University endowments suffered record losses following the September 2008 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., triggering layoffs, spending reductions and delays in capital projects. Investments at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, fell 27 percent in the year ended June 2009, while holdings at Yale University of New Haven, Connecticut, declined 25 percent.
Harvard’s $26 billion endowment is the largest among U.S. colleges, while Yale’s $16 billion fund ranks second.
Stanford, in the wake of the financial crisis, dismissed 412, or 3.2 percent, of its non-faculty workers and postponed $1.1 billion in construction. As financial markets recovered in 2009, Powers explored selling as much as $1 billion of its private-equity, distressed-debt and energy funds to take advantage of rising prices. He canceled the sale in December.
The search for a chief investment officer was handled by David Barrett Partners LLC, a recruiting company in New York.