Harvard Endowment Chief Was Paid $3.1 Million While at Columbia

  • Narvekar’s 2015 compensation included salary, bonus, benefits
  • New CEO is making sweeping changes to Harvard’s fund

Nirmal “Narv” Narvekar, who was chief executive officer of Columbia University’s endowment before departing last year for Harvard University, was paid $3.1 million in salary and bonus for 2015, according to a tax filing. He’ll likely earn more at Harvard.

Columbia reported a $6 million compensation package, which included salary, bonus, benefits and $2.9 million in deferred compensation earned in previous years and paid in 2015, according to a tax filing it provided to Bloomberg. He forfeited some money to take his new job.

Nirmal Narvekar

Source: Columbia University

Narvekar, 55, left Columbia in November to join Harvard, where he’s making sweeping changes to the $35.7 billion endowment that has struggled to rebound in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Sweeter Offer

He’s guaranteed at least $6 million a year for three years, according to a person familiar with the matter. Stephen Blyth, Harvard’s former investment chief who left the fund last May for personal reasons, received $14.9 million in 2015 in salary and bonus, according to Harvard’s tax filing. Narvekar wasn’t listed in the filing because he started working at Harvard Management Co. in December.

“The offer from Harvard must be sweeter,” said Ge Bai, an assistant professor of accounting at the business school at Johns Hopkins University, who studies nonprofit compensation.

Peter Holland, chief executive officer of Columbia’s $9 billion endowment, earned $4.2 million. Columbia reported a $6.8 million compensation package in 2015, when he held the title of chief investment officer. His package included salary, bonus and $2.6 million in deferred compensation previously earned and paid.

By contrast, Lee Bollinger, Columbia’s president since 2002, earned $2.5 million in 2015, according to the filing.

Vesting Conditions

When Narvekar left Columbia’s endowment in November, “he did not satisfy the vesting conditions” for a portion of the deferred compensation awarded during the reporting period, according to the filing. The filing didn’t specify the amount that was forfeited.

Some university tax filings include deferred compensation, which can get double-counted and inflate reported pay packages. That was the case at Columbia, according to the filing. Narvekar declined to comment.

Columbia’s fund was a top performer under Narvekar, who had been CEO since 2002, with five- and 10-year annualized returns through June 30 of 7.4 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively.

With the nation’s largest college endowment, Harvard has paid top dollar to investment staffers. The top six executives and money managers earned a combined $53.5 million in 2015, a 7 percent increase from 2014, according to Harvard’s filing.

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