Six out of eight Ivy League schools including Penn reported endowment investment losses in 2016 — a trend among top colleges across the nation this year.
Cornell, Dartmouth, Columbia, Brown and Harvard all saw investments shrink in the last fiscal year, joining Penn, which reported an investment loss of 1.4 percent in September. This year's result puts Penn as the third worst-performing endowment out of the eight schools, in front of Dartmouth and Harvard.
Out of the six Ivy Leagues to post losses, Cornell's investment fund performed the worst, plummeting 3.3 percent since last year. Dartmouth reported a $100 million loss, or 1.9 percent decrease, while Harvard, which has the largest college endowment fund in the world, reported a 2 percent decrease of $1.9 billion. Brown lost 1.1 percent, and Columbia rounded out the group with a 0.9 percent loss.
Despite the investment fund loss, Penn's overall endowment grew 6 percent to a record $10.7 billion this year. This was due to the fund being balanced out by an increase in new gifts to the school, as well as fund transfers from Lancaster General Health, which was recently integrated into Penn's Health System. Other schools reported similar net gains.
Poorly performing investment funds have emerged as a documented trend among top colleges this year, especially for schools with endowments over $1 billion.
At some schools like Harvard and Cornell, the losses have raised questions about management, leading Cornell to relocate its investment offices to New York City in an attempt to recruit better talent. Harvard replaced the CEO in charge of managing the school's fund for the fourth time in 10 years, and its student newspaper penned a scathing editorial about Harvard's $2 million loss this month.
"Let's not mince words," the Harvard Crimson Editorial Board wrote. "This is unacceptable."
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