Joe Asch has an interesting analysis of returns on university endowments over time (focusing on Dartmouth but comparing Dartmouth to over Ivy League institutions), comparing the returns of actively-managed endowments with those with a simple 60/40 equity-bond split. He notes that while actively-managed endowments beat the benchmark for the past year over the past five years it hasn’t done so well comparatively:
However, over a five-year span, despite active management by Trustees and the College’s investment staff, we underperformed a 60/40 equities/bond allocation by 1.8% annually. The only major endowment to beat the 60/40 allocation was Columbia, and its performance was only 0.6% annually above that of a plain vanilla strategy.
He also notes that Ivy League universities pay their chief investment officers annual salaries ranging from $673k at Cornell to over $5 million at Harvard.