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    Second Harvard endowment executive announces departure

    Harvard Management Co.’s head of natural resources investments, Alvaro Aguirre, “has decided to leave the company,’’ the endowment’s chief executive told employees in an e-mail Tuesday.

    The announcement came just a week after the nation’s largest university endowment reported a modest 5.8 percent investment return for fiscal 2015. The endowment’s chief, Stephen Blyth, called out natural resources in his annual review letter as an area in need of improvement, with “generally subdued returns.”

    Blyth said Satu Parikh, head of commodities, will oversee the natural resources portfolio in the interim.

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    Aguirre’s departure is the second departure announced in three weeks. The group’s head of alternative assets and a timber specialist, Andrew Wiltshire, plans to retire later this year. It’s unclear whether he will be replaced.

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    Aguirre and Wiltshire were the third- and fourth-highest compensated executives at Harvard Management in 2013, the latest year reported, earning $9.6 million and $8.5 million respectively.

    Harvard has come under sharp criticism for having the highest paid staff among the elite US endowments, but the worst performance.

    The natural resources and commodities portfolios produced a 3.5 percent return for the year ended June 30, slightly outperforming an internal benchmark of 3.1 percent, the endowment report said.

    Blyth credited Parikh with a major contribution to that return, calling the return generated by his team “impressive, and indicative of our ability to extract value from volatile and distressed markets, agnostic of market direction.”

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    Aguirre, who has been with Harvard Management for 12 years, will leave the $37.6 billion endowment Oct. 9, Blyth said.

    “I thank Alvaro for his many valuable contributions to, and leadership of, our NR portfolio, and wish him the best in his future endeavours,’’ Blyth wrote.

    Beth Healy can be reached at beth.healy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @HealyBeth.