David Swansen, the gracious head of Yale University who helped rebuild how institutions manage their finances, has died of cancer at the age of 67.
After speaking at Salmon Brothers and Lehman Brothers, Sweeney returned to his alma mater in 1975 to lead the investment. At the time, endowments were generally conducted conservatively, but Sovensen dramatically dismissed the model as an opportunity for their long-term focus to invest heavily in the long-term private equity and hedge fund industries.
His approach was so successful that it revolutionized financing and allocating money to many other institutional investors, spreading the “Yale model” and helping to transform the broader investment industry.
Yale President Peter Salovy said in a statement, “Under his direction Yale owns the return, which has established him as a legend among institutional investors.” “As a natural teacher, he prepared a generation of institutional investors who led investment offices at other colleges and universities and further expanded the scope of David’s influence.”
The Yale Investment Office has managed 31.2bn as of June 2020 and says it has earned 12 percent a year on annual returns over the past three decades. Its contribution to the fiscal year 2021 is more than one third of the total income of the university.
About a quarter of the endowment is invested in venture capital and combined with private equity, hedge funds and real estate, so-called “alternative” investments account for about three-quarters of its assets.