The lead faculty governing body praised the University’s financial team for increasing the size of the school’s endowment, at its weekly meeting yesterday.

While many universities around the country lost 40 to 60 percent of the value of their endowments over the past few years, the University of Michigan’s endowment grew by 24.3 percent this past year from $6.6 billion to $7.8 billion.

Kate Barald, chair of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, credited the endowment’s growth to Erik Lundberg, the University’s chief investment officer and the manager of the endowment fund. Barald said Lundberg has been a “saving grace” during the ongoing economic crisis, and state budget cuts. The state cut $47.5 million in funding to the University for the current academic year.

In 2010, the University’s endowment ranked seventh among public and private universities in the country, falling just below Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which were $13.85 billion and $8.32 billion, respectively.

In an interview after the meeting, Barald said the endowment’s growth indicates that the University of Michigan is one of the best-funded public universities in the country. Last year, only the University of Texas system had a higher endowment.

“We’re more financially sound thanks to our investment strategy than most public universities,” Barald said. “We’re in better shape is the basic bottom line.”

Barald said she believes the University’s endowment will continue to grow.

“I expect that once we’re over this big financial downturn that started in 2008 … we’ll probably continue to rise,” Barald said.

However, Timothy Slottow, the University’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in a recent interview that it is hard to predict what shape the endowment will take in future years. Despite the uncertainty, the University’s 2011 financial report shows positive outcomes. In addition to the endowment growth, the University had high returns on investments in venture capital and private equity.

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