[FoRK] wealth disparity amongst institutions of higher learning

dan at geer.org dan at geer.org
Tue Dec 8 12:12:04 PST 2015

Gregory Alan Bolcer writes:
 | This is an interesting stat: Endowment assets are concentrated, with 11% 
 | of institutions holding 74% of all endowment assets in 2014. 
 | Institutions with the largest endowments (Yale, Princeton, Harvard, and 
 | Stanford) each hold more than 4% of total endowment assets.
 | But I guess the question is, so what?  Is that different than you 
 | expected it to be?  The universities that have been around the longest 
 | and have the most alumni and best reputation have the largest endowment 
 | funds?
 | Universities are supposed to last decades or centuries and a large 
 | endowment is a hedge against any uncertainties or threats to its survival.

It does not surprise at all, but I'm tired of hearing folks at
these institutions making this or that claim to the public's
inventory of outrage that something must be done to the mythical
"1%" when folks at those institutions are enjoying tenure or
financial aid or hotel-grade living conditions that are only
possible if their benefactor is in that mythical 1%.

Returning to quotation:

In 2014, endowment assets earned a rate of return of 15.5%, on average.
Larger institutions tended to earn higher returns. Larger institutions
also tended to have a larger share of assets invested in alternative
strategies, including hedge funds and private equity.

Table 2

Endowment per undergraduate

  $4,401,000 Yale University

  $3,945,000 Princeton University

  $3,408,000 Harvard University

  $2,932,000 Stanford University

which, at 15.5%, means that endowment earns, per undergraduate per year,

    $682,155 Yale University

    $611,475 Princeton University

    $528,240 Harvard University

    $454,460 Stanford University


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