September 25, 2013

Harvard's endowment surges to $32.7 billion

But the gain for the nation's wealthiest university is still below the $37 billion high of 2008.

The Associated Press

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Harvard University's endowment earned an 11.3 percent gain on investments in the most recent fiscal year to surge to $32.7 billion, university officials said.

click image to enlarge

In this August 2012 file photo, pedestrians walk through a gate on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University's endowment earned an 11.3 percent gain on investments in the most recent fiscal year to surge to $32.7 billion, university officials said.

AP Photo / Elise Amendola

The endowment for the nation's wealthiest university for the fiscal year that ended June 30, however, remains well below the high-water mark of almost $37 billion reached in 2008 before the worldwide financial crisis cost Harvard about $11 billion.

Jane Mendillo, president and CEO of Harvard Management Co., which oversees the Ivy League university's investments, said the endowment beat benchmarks and has recovered well since the recession started.

"We have made a strong recovery since the global economic downturn of 2008-2009, and our outperformance this year alone contributed about $600 million of additional value to the portfolio over and above the markets," she said.

Distributions from the endowment contributed more than a third of the university's operating budget during the most recent fiscal year.

The endowment also supports financial aid programs that allow the university to admit qualified students regardless of their ability to pay.

More than 60 percent of Harvard undergraduates are receiving need-based aid this year, totaling more than $182 million, officials said. The average undergraduate student receiving financial aid pays only $12,000 and about one in five students pays no tuition.

"The HMC team produced strong results at a time when the revenue streams that have traditionally supported institutions of higher education have been under increasing pressure," university Treasurer James Rothenberg said.

The endowment is not a single fund but comprises more than 12,000 individual funds, many restricted to specific uses such as support of a research center or the creation of a professorship in a specific academic field.

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