College and university endowments jump in value; Penn State's soars 66 percent

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Penn State University has taken some image hits lately, but the school’s endowment seems to have had a banner year.

The state’s flagship public university saw the market value of its endowment soar by 66 percent in fiscal year 2013 to just under $3 billion, according to a newly released study of hundreds of U.S. college and university endowments.

Its value for the period ending June 30, 2013, stood at $2,956,803,000 up from $1,779,958,000 the previous 12 months, according to the NACUBO-Commonfund Study that drew data from 835 campus endowments.

Penn State could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday evening about the new study, which puts Penn State’s endowment as 27th largest in value among participating schools. A survey footnote said the growth was chiefly attributable to board-approved redesignation of funds previously invested in the school’s general operating pool of assets.

The survey says these funds “have been co-mingled with the university’s long-term investment pool and are essentially ‘quasi-endowments.’ "

Other Pittsburgh universities achieved sizable growth in a year that nationally saw endowments return an average of 11.7 percent, net of fees, the study’s authors said. They called it a strong rebound from the -0.03 percent return reported by survey participants in fiscal year 2012.

The University of Pittsburgh, whose endowment grew in value by 13.7 percent, continues to have the city’s largest university endowment. Its worth stood at $2,975,896,000 up from $2,618,436,000 the previous year, placing it 26th largest in the study.

Carnegie Mellon University’s endowment jumped in market value by 38.9 percent to $1,371,365,000 from $987,054,000 placing it 56th in the study.

Duquesne University’s endowment climbed to $203,875,000 from $177,211,000 the previous year. Its rank was 279th.

Donor gifts or other contributions boost endowment market value as do positive returns on investments.

Harvard University, whose $32.3 billion investment topped the survey, saw a market value increase of 6.2 percent, according to the study. Next largest, Yale University at nearly $20.8 billion, saw a gain of 7.4 percent.

Rounding out the five highest valued endowments were the University of Texas System at $20.4 billion, up by 12 percent; Stanford University at $18.7 billion, up by 9.7 percent and Princeton University at $18.2 billion, an increase in market value of 7.4 percent.

Bill Schackner:, 412-263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG.

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