Case Western CIO Exit Marks Fourth Woman to Depart College Funds

  • Sally Staley worked at the Ohio-based college since 2002
  • Female endowment chiefs at Dartmouth, Washington also leave

Case Western Reserve University Chief Investment Officer Sally Staley has retired, making her at least the fourth woman departing from the helm of a university endowment in recent months.

Staley’s last day was Feb. 10, a Case Western spokesman said Wednesday in an e-mail. Staley had worked at the Cleveland school’s $1.7 billion fund since 2002 and became the CIO in 2006. Case Western didn’t return phone calls or e-mails seeking further comment.

At least a half-dozen schools have announced leadership changes at their endowments following lagging performance. Women run endowments for about 15 percent of the richest 100 colleges, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Different Reasons

“It’s significant when four depart, even when they depart for different reasons,” said Elissa Sangster, executive director of Forte Foundation, which helps promote women in business careers. “Men are leaving those jobs for possibly similar reasons. But we don’t notice because there are so many of them.”

Kimberly Walker left Washington University in St. Louis’s $6.5 billion fund, the largest endowment that had been run by a woman, in December. Pamela Peedin announced Nov. 9 that she’s departing Dartmouth College’s $4.5 billion fund in June for personal reasons, and Adele Gorrilla left Denison University’s fund in December to run a family office.

The most high-profile woman running an endowment was Jane Mendillo at Harvard University, the world’s richest college fund. She exited in 2014, and the school’s 10-year return is among the worst in the eight-member Ivy League.

Case Western Reserve’s endowment had a 3.2 percent investment decline in fiscal 2016, lower than the overall average loss of 1.9 percent for college funds, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers and money manager Commonfund. The school’s 10-year average gain is 4.6 percent, below the average 5 percent.

— With assistance by Michael McDonald

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