Each January the National Association of College and University Business Officers compiles data from hundreds of institutions of higher learning across the U.S., public and private. The result is the NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments (NCSE), a definitive report that serves as an annual benchmark of the performance of university investment funds.
The NCSE for fiscal year 2017, released today, credits the ASU Endowment with a 12.8 percent return on investment last year. The endowment outperformed the average — 12.7 percent — for all funds of comparable size ($501 million–$1 billion), as well as the averages for endowments of all public institutions (12.2 percent) and all private (12.3).
Gretchen Buhlig, chief executive officer of the ASU Foundation for A New American University, says the positive comparison with more than 800 college and university funds is not the most important indicator for the ASU endowment.
“While our 12.8 percent return exceeded our internal benchmark of 12.1, I am most proud that the continued stewardship of the endowment has led to more than $26 million in funds to ASU to support the university’s mission. This marks a 20 percent increase over last year and our largest amount of support to date,” she said.
R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr. is CEO of ASU Enterprise Partners, parent organization of the ASU Foundation. He said the endowment’s strong performance for 2017 is particularly gratifying as it follows two changes in investment management and philosophy.
“Last June we welcomed Jeffrey Mindlin to our leadership as vice president of investments,” Shangraw said. “Jeff graduated from ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business and rapidly established himself as a successful chief investment officer for major asset management firms.”
Mindlin also serves as liaison between Enterprise Partners and the outsourced chief investment officer (OCIO) firm named in July: BlackRock Inc.
“Our investment committee selected BlackRock as OCIO for its global perspective, its strong focus on innovation, and a wide range of demonstrated investment skills,” Mindlin said.
BlackRock further illustrated its alignment with ASU’s mission this month when CEO Larry Fink called on CEOs of public companies to ask themselves, “What role do we play in the community?”
His letter drew national attention, reflecting a growing demand for corporate America to act philanthropically and help solve social issues. Putting his words into action, Fink vowed to double his BlackRock staff to follow through.
“While our 12.8 percent return exceeded our internal benchmark of 12.1, I am most proud that the continued stewardship of the endowment has led to more than $26 million in funds to ASU to support the university’s mission."
— Gretchen Buhlig, CEO, ASU Foundation
“The challenges Larry Fink poses to his peers and to guide BlackRock are identical to the questions that led Michael Crow to redesign ASU as a New American University," Buhlig said. "It’s vital that we continue to ask hard questions as we steward the investments that help that university thrive and grow. Seeing our shared commitment bear fruit so early in our relationship with BlackRock reinforces our shared vision for our institutions and their roles in our world.”
About ASU Enterprise Partners
Enterprise Partners is a not-for-profit organization based in Tempe, Arizona and made up of distinct entities that raise, create and invest resources for the benefit of Arizona State University while advocating for and advancing ASU’s mission and brand.