University, college endowments slipped in 2012, report says

University and college endowments saw their investments slip 0.3 percent on average in fiscal 2012, a year after notching gains averaging 19.2 percent, according to an annual study published Friday.

The largest endowments, with more than $1 billion in assets, performed best, with an average gain of 0.8 percent for the year ended June 30, according to the report. Smaller portfolios fared worst, with those from $51 million to $100 million in assets showing a 1 percent loss.

The data was based on results from 831 U.S. educational institutions compiled for the NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments.


Harvard University’s endowment, the nation’s largest at $30.7 billion, was essentially flat in the 12 months ended June 30; it slipped 0.05 percent, as previously reported.

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Endowments of all sizes took the biggest negative hit on international stocks, which fell nearly 12 percent. Real estate and fixed-income investments produced the strongest gains.

Schools’ 10-year returns looked better than a year ago, according to the study, as endowments averaged 6.2 percent gains vs. 5.6 percent for the 10 years ended in fiscal 2011. That was in part the result of the 2001 downturn coming off the 10-year tally.

Beth Healy can be reached at