At Harvard University, in the shadows of a freshly minted $6.5 billion capital raising campaign, lurks a cash pile of $32.7 billion, up 11.3% this year. In what officials call a “rainy day fund” that they are reluctant to tap (Harvard, like most top schools, merely raised tuition or cut spending during the recession) are returns that will have many investors envious.
Harvard’s holdings of domestic equities gained 26.6 percent, while foreign equities were up 20.5 percent. The hedge fund portfolio was up 13.2 percent, compared with a benchmark of 6.8 percent. Private equity returned 11 percent..
As impressive as the gains are, the fund is still below its peak in 2008 of $36.9 and the gains trail some of the other top Ivy League schools. The University of Pennsylvania saw a 14.4% gain, Yale 12.5%, and MIT 11.1%. According to Wilshire Associates, the median return for foundations and endowments was 11.28% over the twelve months ending June 30.