Despite this very challenging year, we are able to report positive performance for the University’s endowment in Fiscal Year 2008. As detailed in the financial reports, the endowment investment registered a positive return of just under one percent. Relative to endowments of similar size, which averaged losses of more than three percent, this performance placed us in the top quartile of endowments reporting, but it is far from what we aspire to achieve for our University.
The next several years promise to be even more difficult, with positive returns diminishing, and becoming rarer. As always, but particularly in this trying financial environment, we are grateful for the steadfast commitment of our Investment Committee members. This talented and committed group of alumni, parents, and friends—all accomplished investment professionals—volunteer their time and provide counsel as stewards of the UMass endowment. We also receive solid insight and guidance from our paid advisor, Morgan Stanley.
Our Committee mandate is to invest the University endowment in assets that will grow at a rate greater than inflation so that the spending power of our endowment over time is preserved. Though recent quarters have been challenging, today’s market offers opportunities for investors with a long investment horizon, and we seek to position the endowment to benefit from those opportunities.
At the close of Fiscal Year 2008, our endowment stood at $381 million. The endowment is an essential part of how UMass is able to achieve some of the most fundamental parts of its mission as a public research university. The primary resource of any organization is its people, and ultimately the endowment allows us to invest in the precious human capital that drives the institution’s success. There are many examples of how endowment gifts drive this investment.
President Wilson, University trustees, and the chancellors have made increased commitments to financial aid, and the endowment has been a critical source of funds for this purpose in recent years.
Recruiting new faculty members with talents in teaching and research or other scholarly practice is made easier with endowed chairs, graduate fellowships, and library funds to support their work.
As we seek to strengthen our research capacity, the endowment also allows the University to invest in modern facilities and collaborations with industry that fuel innovation and economic development—for the people of the Commonwealth and the nation.
When you invest in the endowment, you make all of this—and more—possible. Your giving is an investment in the University for today and for tomorrow. On the preceding page is an illustration of the endowment’s growth in recent years.
I applaud and thank my colleagues on the Investment Committee for their prescience and diligence in setting our course. I join President Wilson and the chancellors in thanking the many alumni, parents, and friends who have become donors and who have joined me in making gifts to the endowment. The University of Massachusetts cannot achieve its continued progress toward excellence without our continued support, and I am privileged to be among the stewards of your philanthropy.
Roy J. Zuckerberg, UMass Lowell ’58
UMass Foundation Treasurer and Investment Committee Chairman