Harvard Endowment Down 22 Percent

$8 billion loss is more than most schools' endowments.

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Harvard's $36.9 billion endowment fell 22 percent in the past four months, the Harvard Crimson reports—a more than $8 billion loss that by itself is larger than the endowments of most schools except Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and MIT.

Officials expect fiscal-year-end losses to reach 30 percent and say the current 22 percent figure is an underestimation because it does not include some private equity and real estate assets.

Last week, Harvard instituted a hiring freeze and will continue to take a "hard look at hiring, staffing levels, and compensation," President Drew Faust and Executive Vice President Edward Forst wrote in a letter to the deans.

In the past 40 years, Harvard's worst loss in one year was 12.2 percent in 1974, at a time when its endowment was less than $1 billion and funded only a small portion of the school's operations. Now, the endowment funds around 35 percent of the budget; 50 percent at some of Harvard's schools. The announcement could signal even heavier losses at other universities. Harvard's returns last fiscal year were some of the strongest, with its endowment posting an 8.6 percent gain.

Other four-month endowment losses, starting around the beginning of July, include:

University of Virginia: $1 billion loss, leaving its endowment at $4.2 billion.

Penn State: Its $1.6 billion fund lost $300 million, a 19 percent loss. A university spokesman insists the school is still "on pretty solid footing." He added: "Certainly, $300 million is a lot of money; there's no other way to state it. But in the grand scheme of things for us, it could have been worse, and we've certainly done better than the markets have."

Wesleyan: endowment down 20 percent.

Three-month losses ending in September include:

Georgetown—down 9.5 percent, now valued at $964 million. The Hoya endowment funds just 5 percent of its operating budget.

University of California system: Its $6.7 billion endowment lost $1 billion, a 15 percent decline.

Dartmouth: fell 6 percent, or $220 million, and now stands at $3.44 billion.