The world’s wealthiest college lost 0.05 percent on its investments in the year ending June 30 as its foreign assets dove in value. Taking into account expenditures and donations, Harvard’s endowment fell by $1-billion to $30.7-billion, remaining well below its pre-crash peak of $36.9-billion.
Harvard’s performance was the worst reported thus far in a mixed crop of results for elite universities, many of which posted double-digit gains in 2011 but this year lag behind the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s 5.5 percent return.
Yale, the second-richest U.S. university, earned 4.7 percent on investments but also saw its endowment drop slightly, to $19.3-billion. Stanford’s investments gained 1 percent and the University of Pennsylvania’s 1.6 percent, while the Massachusetts Institute of Technology posted a healthy gain, adding 8 percent.
Wealthier universities tend to have more private equity in their portfolios, noted Ken Redd, a researcher and policy analyst at the National Association of College and University Business Officers. “The smaller institutions tend to invest more conservatively, which might have been a better strategy this past year,” he said.