Harvard Endowment Runs Past Yale

It’s far too early to know how Jane Mendillo will fare as chief investment officer for the Harvard Management Co., but it is now clear that she gets to begin with a headstart over rival Yale. America’s oldest university announced last week that its endowment stood at $36.9 billion for the fiscal year ending June 30, which represents an 8.6% increase over the prior year. Not too shabby, considering that the average university endowment actually lost value during that same period.

Yale also posted a gain, but at a slower rate, according to a document obtained by the Yale Daily News. The Connecticut school’s total endowment now stands at nearly $23 billion, which is second-best in the nation (and larger than the GDP of some actual nations). It would represent a 2.2% growth rate, were spending taken into account (Harvard’s is 5.7%, including spending).

The Yale paper says that both schools were able to buck the national trend by embracing alternative and real-asset investments, particularly since both schools saw drops in their doemstic and foreign equities portfolios. But, again, Harvard wins this particular game. Maybe mixed emotions for Mendillo, though. She had worked at Harvard for years before briefly leaving to run Wellesley College’s endowment, but her undergrad and MBA diplomas still say Yale.