Yale Daily News reports that David Swensen, the man responsible for managing Yale University’s $19 billion endowment fund, has been diagnosed with cancer. According to the report, students who attend Swensens economics seminar, told the Daily News that Dean Takashi, Yale’s Investments Office Senior Director, announced on Monday that Swensen had received the diagnosis. Takashi went on to say that Swensen would be absent from the course for approximately one month, due to treatment. He did not reveal what type of cancer Swensen had been diagnosed with, nor what the prognosis was from his doctor. The Daily News said that neither Swensen nor Takashi could be reached for comments on the matter.
Swensen came to Yale in 1985, following a 6 year run on Wall Street as an investor. He has been widely acclaimed for redefining the model of institutional investing. He pioneered a highly nontraditional investment strategy, which favors illiquid, alternative assets, and use a long term approach. This strategy has since been called the “Yale Model” and has been adopted by several of Yale’s equals, following the success that Swensen brought the school’s fund between 2004 and 2007. During this time period, the fund returned near or above the 20% mark, which marked it as highly succesful. He successfully grew Yale’s endowment fund from $1 billion to $19 billion during his tenure at the school, and his investments will go down in history as one of the most successful investment runs of all time.
Not only accomplished in the world of investments, David Swensen is also a talented writer, and documented his methods for investing in “Unconventional Success“, his investment guide for individuals who wish to invest. He also wrote pieces for The New York Times on investing and mutual funds.
I hold Swensen in the highest regards, as he is one of the role models of Wall Street, and many investors would do well to heed his advice. We wish him a speedy recovery, and send our thoughts and prayers with him as he begins his treatment.