Communication makes ACU's endowment one of the strongest in the nationPosted March 30, 2011
For private universities such as ACU, the strength of the endowment fund is synonymous with the financial health of the institution. Even in the recent troubled economy, ACU's endowment, under the leadership of chief investment officer Jack Rich, has grown, placing the university in the top quartile of its peer group.
Over the past 10 years, ACU's endowment has grown from $145 million to more than $290 million – doubling in a difficult investment environment. Among all university endowments with assets over $200 million, ACU had the highest return – tied only with Yale University, the longtime leader in endowment returns.
"The secret to our positive investment process and performance is the way our board engages with our endowment staff," says Rich. "Our consistent communication about priority endowment issues has allowed ACU to develop a progressive portfolio that has weathered the past few years with a minimal amount of disruption."
To manage more than a quarter of a billion dollars successfully, the endowment management staff focuses on long-term investment goals, risk management, portfolio diversification, and a unique approach to spending policy. But none of this would be possible without the confidence of the ACU Board of Trustees.
"The complexity of a modern portfolio requires a great deal of trust in policy and in those overseeing the investments at the board level," says Rich. "Confidence in the process, or lack thereof, will dictate the ability of management to develop portfolios that maximize investment returns within acceptable levels of risk."
The constant communication between Rich and the rest of the management staff and the board of trustees has allowed ACU's endowment to consistently be a high-level performer.
"We've helped develop a board that is knowledgeable and engaged in the management of our endowment. With everyone pulling in the same direction, it's a process that has served us well," says Rich.