Endowment bounces back with $38 million gain

The University’s endowment has jumped $38 million since last summer – good financial news after a fiscal year of stagnant investment returns.

The endowment – which helps cover academic, construction and financial aid costs every year – now sits at $1.338 billion midway through the fiscal year. The University released this month its endowment numbers from the first two quarters of this fiscal year.

Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz attributed the growth of the endowment to the rebound of global equity markets, which account for the largest share of endowment investments.

About 42 percent of the endowed is tied up in global equity, like stocks in the Brazilian emerging market. The University also relies heavily on real estate investments in D.C.

The global markets helped restore GW’s investment returns to double digits. One-year investment returns shot up to 11.57 percent as of Dec. 31 after lingering around 2.4 percent last fiscal year.

Big investment returns mean more cushion for the University’s annual payout for scholarships and salaries.

Last year was a sluggish time for many top university endowments around the country. Most schools do not release quarterly financial data.

The University’s endowment is smaller than those of many of its peer schools and other top research universities, which sometimes means GW must fund new projects through debt and other sources.

For example, New York University’s endowment is more than double GW’s, at $2.8 billion.

But the endowment’s relative smallness – as well as safe investment bets – helped the University’s finances stay afloat as the global economy plummeted in 2008. That stability has allowed GW to invest in new buildings and faculty positions as other schools have pulled back.

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