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Harvard endowment chief sees big boost in pay

Harvard University endowment chief Jane Mendillo earned $5.3 million in 2011, up 52 percent from the previous year, the institution disclosed on Wednesday.

The highest-paid manager on Mendillo’s staff at the nation’s largest endowment was again Andrew Wiltshire, who oversees hedge funds and other alternative assets for Harvard. Wiltshire took home $6.6 million, a 20 percent increase from the prior year.

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The compensation disclosure for managers who invest the $31 billion Harvard endowment coincided with the university’s filing of its annual tax return Wednesday.

The pay of the Harvard endowment’s managers is a closely watched matter in some quarters of the university and among its alumni. Ninety percent of compensation for Harvard endowment managers is based on performance and whether they beat their investment return goals.

“This compensation system is designed to closely align the interests of the university with its investment professionals,” said James Rothenberg, Harvard’s treasurer and chairman of the Harvard Management Co., the university’s endowment investment group. He said the group’s “market-beating performance” helped Harvard pay for its teaching and research.

It’s difficult to match the calendar-year pay against performance directly, because the investment results are reported on a different period — the school’s fiscal year, which ends June 30. The endowment’s investment return was flat in the 12 months ended June 2012; it gained 21.4 percent in the prior 12-month period.

The investment managers’ pay far outstrips that of the university’s highest-paid academics and administrators. For instance, Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust earned total compensation of $899,734 in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2011, a 3 percent increase from the prior year. Of the total, $170,628 in “other compensation” for Faust was primarily for the personal use of the president’s house in Cambridge.

Harvard said its model of using inside portfolio managers and outside firms to manage money has saved the university more than $1 billion in fees over the past decade. The fees charged by hedge funds and most other investment firms it employs are not disclosed, however.

Beth Healy can be reached at
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