Like Columbia, this fellow's got everything under control

You may have seen it in the news yesterday morning, but we just wanted to make sure you were aware that Columbia’s endowment is flush with hard-earned and successfully-invested dollars. $7.8 billion of them in fact, (you might be interested to know that the cost of Manhattanville was pegged at $7 billion). Think about all the cheeseburgers you could buy with that.

NEW YORK, Oct. 13, 2011 — Columbia University’s Investment Management Company generated a return of 23.6 percent on its endowment portfolio for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, which reflects the normal quarterly lag in private equity and real assets.

Most significantly, the University’s long-term returns have been sharply higher than a quarterly rebalanced portfolio of 70 percent equities and 30 percent fixed income, as represented by the S&P 500 and Barclays Aggregate Index, respectively. Columbia’s annualized five-year positive return of 8.8 percent compares to 4.5 percent for a 70/30 portfolio; its annualized seven-year return of 11.4 percent compares to a 5.0 percent return for a 70/30 portfolio; and the annualized 10-year return of 9.9 percent compares to 4.1 percent for the 70/30 market portfolio.

This 10-year performance of 9.9 percent on endowment investments compares to the annualized S&P Total Return of 2.7 percent during the same decade. Equally notable is the fact that Columbia’s endowment investments have achieved strong gains during up cycles in the financial markets—and a relatively modest loss compared to market benchmarks during the global financial crisis in 2008-09.

As a result, the total value of the University’s endowment as of June 30, 2011 was $7.8 billion.

“This consistent record of prudent investment management plays a vital role in Columbia’s mission,” said President Lee C. Bollinger. “Our ability to achieve academic excellence in the highest tier with several peer institutions that have far larger endowments than our own has been greatly aided on our relative financial stability during these turbulent years. We must continue to invest in attracting the most talented students and faculty and providing them with the resources and facilities to do the highest quality teaching and learning, research, and patient care. The dedicated professionals and board of our investment management company have helped ensure that we maintain Columbia’s forward momentum in both academic initiatives and long-term development.”