The Governance of University Endowments: Insights from a TIAA-CREF Institute Survey

Jeffrey R. Brown
University of Illinois, NBER and TIAA-CREF Institute

Stephen Dimmock
Nanyang Technological University

Junk-Koo Kang
Nanyang Technological University

David Richardson
TIAA-CREF Institute

Scott Weisbenner
University of Illinois and NBER

July 2011 | Issue # 102

This paper summarizes a survey of university endowment funds, with a particular focus on the composition of endowment investment committees and how this composition is associated with a number of key activities. In general, we find that the typical investment committee member has financial credentials of some form and has experience as an executive or serving on other boards. We also find that most investment committee members are themselves donors to the university. We document a number of correlations between investment committees’ characteristics (such as the number of non-donors on the committee) and key decisions of the committee (such as whether to outsource portfolio selection, or how much risk to take in the portfolio), and discuss some of the possible interpretations of these correlations.

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