- Harvard University’s recent money controversy, as profiled recently by The Chronicle of Higher Education, includes $2 billion in endowment investment losses over the last year.
- The losses, which have barely dented the school’s standing as the nation’s richest with more than $35 billion in endowment resources, stem from a series of leadership changes over the last decade.
- Former Harvard executives say that the university’s standing as the nation’s elite flagship will be tied to the performance of its investments, and that underperformance “politically” will not stand in the eyes of faculty and stakeholders.
Like many institutions, Harvard has faced dual struggles with a volatile market and equally volatile expectations tied to its own tradition. And while most colleges and universities are being aggressive to counter bad market trends — even those with few ties to American higher education like Brexit — the fallout continues to burden these institutions relatively in the corporate space.
Institutions have tried to counter with impact investing and other business models that yield modest but stable returns, but with increasing market uncertainty and falling confidence in higher education as an industry, there is no telling how precipitous the fall may be, even for schools best suited to survive a bursting industrial bubble.