Michigan and Columbia Expect Big Endowment Losses, Too

Their declines will very likely be similar to Harvard's 22 percent endowment drop.

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Harvard, take heart. Two other notable schools have also reported staggering endowment losses since the beginning of the fiscal year in July. The University of Michigan has lost 20 to 30 percent of its endowment's value, up to $2.28 billion of its $7.6 billion fund. And although Columbia has not officially reported its losses, President Lee Bollinger said the percentage of its losses was "about the same" as Harvard's, which was reported last week at about 22 percent. Bollinger also said, "We have sustained a significant decline, but not as significant as other institutions."

A Michigan spokeswoman said that the effect of the losses would be minimal because the endowment payout is designed to withstand market volatility (the payout is based on a rolling seven-year average market value) and just 5 percent of that average is used for university operations. At Columbia, Bollinger points to a boost in donations but warns that much of the school is preparing for a tighter budget and an uncertain future. "Whether this will fall off or keep on the same trajectory," he said, "we simply don't know."