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YU finances: The facts

Yeshiva University did not lose $1.3 billion since 2007, as recent reports allege; the endowment remains secure

In recent days, various articles have made outlandish claims about Yeshiva University’s investment performance, debt, and endowment over the last several years. I believe it is important to set the record straight by providing some key facts about Yeshiva’s financial situation, investment performance and policies.

1. Yeshiva University did not lose $1.3 billion since 2007, as alleged (for endowment performance see chart below). Like many other institutions, we were severely impacted by the 2008 recession, yet chose to continue to build. We continued to invest in developing a first-rate faculty, enhancing the student academic experience, and building the physical infrastructure necessary to deliver that experience.

2. Beginning in 2009, as part of a comprehensive review of the university’s governance practices, we established new oversight practices for the University’s investments.

— Although our previous conflict of interest policy had been in line with other major universities, with the help of leading experts in the field we enhanced our policy to make it best in class.

— We established a professional investment office to oversee the investments on a day-to-day basis, and, in consultation with the Board of Trustees and its Investment Committee, develop a strategic vision for the endowment over the next decade.

— The investment office has overseen the establishment of investment guidelines and policies and is executing a strategy that prudently balances the safety of the investments, expected return of the portfolio, and liquidity and flexibility to support the university.

3. The endowment remains secure and as of June 2013, the endowment of Yeshiva University and its affiliates was $1.17 billion. In keeping with prudent investment guidelines and our spending rate policies, we balanced support of current needs while maintaining substantial resources for future generations.

Below is a performance summary of the University’s long-term investment pool since 2002, which includes the endowment, compared to other college and university endowments:

Year Yeshiva University LT Pool* Out / Under-performance
FY2002 4.50% -6.40% 10.90%
FY2003 7.10% 2.90% 4.20%
FY2004 13.80% 16.00% -2.20%
FY2005 12.30% 9.10% 3.20%
FY2006 14.30% 10.80% 3.50%
FY2007 20.10% 17.50% 2.60%
FY2008 -0.90% -3.30% 2.40%
FY2009 -25.20% -19.10% -6.10%
FY2010 10.10% 12.10% -2.00%
FY2011 14.50% 19.80% -5.30%
FY2012 1.20% -0.50% 1.70%
FY2013 12.10% 11.70% 0.40%
*Long Term Pool Median Return for U.S. College and University Endowments
About the Author
Richard M. Joel is the President of Yeshiva University and the Bravmann Family University Professor.