Cornell endowment posts 41.9% return, biggest gain in decades


Cornell’s endowment grew from $ 7.2 billion to $ 10 billion in fiscal 2021, achieving the largest gain in more than three decades.

In a press release from the University, Chief Investment Officer Kenneth Miranda attributed the 41.9% ROI to the rebound in markets, as well as the University’s endowment restructuring effort. over five years, now largely completed.

“It has been an extraordinary year, in part because of a unique constellation of events,” Miranda said in the statement. “We have a multi-year, almost infinite time horizon, and that money must be managed over generations of Cornell students, faculty, staff and research goals, through bull markets and bear markets.”

This 42% return on investment marks a stark contrast to the 1.9% annual return from last year – when Cornell’s total assets fell from $ 7.3 billion to $ 7.2 billion in due to volatile markets shaken by the pandemic.

Among the Ivy League universities that have released their returns so far, Brown has had the highest returns, rising 51.5%, bringing his endowment to $ 6.9 billion. Cornell also fell behind Dartmouth, which posted returns of 46.5%.

While Cornell has historically posted some of the lowest returns among the Ivies, the University edged out the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard and Yale – who recorded annual returns of 41.1%, 33.6%, and 40. 2%, respectively. Columbia and Princeton have yet to release their results.

Cornell’s endowment includes more than 8,000 accounts that remain a source of financial support for faculty, research, student programs, financial aid, athletics and other programs. The university uses a portion of endowment income each year to support its operations, although such expenses are capped at 7% under New York State law.

Year after year, the University distributes about 5 percent of its endowment income to the operating budget – below the state cap. Last year, Cornell spent an additional $ 15 million from the endowment to help manage its pandemic-related spending, the statement said.

With these returns, Cornell’s endowment hit a record $ 10 billion, which comes as the University restructured and repositioned the portfolio under Miranda’s tenure, including improving liquidity and diversifying assets. The restructuring included moving investments from the University to New York to “tap into a larger pool of potential staff and get closer to global capital markets,” the press release said.

According to Miranda, “the portfolio is well placed” as the University sees the results of the restructuring.

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