Ivy League Investors

Yale University, where I teach, has entrusted its endowment portfolio to one man, David Swensen, for over 20 years. During this period, the portfolio has grown from just over $1 billion to $18 billion – an average return of more than 16% a year, which appears to be the highest of any major university. And it shows no signs of diminishing: in the latest fiscal year ending in June, the return was 22.9%.

Presidents of Yale have come and gone, but Swensen stays on. He has done more for the university than any president, or anyone else. In a university, ideas count more than money, but $18 billion dollars can create an environment for many new ideas. With 11,500 students, that is more than $1.5 million per student (not including the university’s buildings and art collection, each worth many billions of dollars more).

How did this happen? How did Swensen make so much money? Everyone is wondering – not least those of us at Yale.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To access our archive, please log in or register now and read two articles from our archive every month for free. For unlimited access to our archive, as well as to the unrivaled analysis of PS On Point, subscribe now.


By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in


Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.