Brown University Endowment Posts 1.1% Loss in ‘Challenging’ Year

  • Value of Ivy League fund declined 3% to $3.2 billion
  • Swarthmore’s $1.8 billion fund had 1.6% investment loss

Brown University, with the smallest endowment in the Ivy League, said it had an investment loss of 1.1 percent in a year “that proved challenging across global financial markets.”

The value of the endowment declined 3 percent to $3.2 billion in the year through June 30, the Providence, Rhode Island-based school said in a statement. Brown is among six of the Ivy League schools to report a loss. Of the other two Ivies, Yale University had a 3.4 percent gain and Princeton University hasn’t reported yet.

Many school endowments have declined as slow economic growth and uncertainty over the pace of monetary stimulus hampered returns. About 430 endowments lost 2.7 percent on average in fiscal 2016, according to an estimate by Cambridge Associates, which manages $9.9 billion for endowments and foundations. The data, like the school returns, is net of fees.

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Swarthmore College said it had an investment loss of 1.6 percent. The value of its fund declined 5 percent to $1.8 billion as of June 30. U.S. and international equity holdings make up 45 percent of the endowment, Mark Amstutz, the Pennsylvania school’s chief investment officer, said in an e-mail. Swarthmore declined to comment on the performance for each asset class. The endowment’s annualized 5-year and 10-year returns were 6.3% and 6.8%.

Brown didn’t disclose what strategies dragged down performance or its asset allocation. In the statement, Brown said its investment office has focused on boosting returns through “improved manager selection, a flexible asset allocation model, and an emphasis on capital efficiency and risk management while maintaining liquidity to fund obligations.”

The fund’s annualized 5-year and 10-year returns were 6.6 percent and 6 percent.

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