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The University's endowment will be in new hands next semester after the departure of Chief Investment Officer Landis Zimmerman.

Recently hired by Howard Hughes Medical Institute -- a biomedical research philanthropy with 3,000 employees nationwide -- Zimmerman will leave Penn in mid-February to oversee the institute's $11.3 billion endowment.

With Penn's own endowment at $3.6 billion, the career move will give Zimmerman bigger fish to fry.

"It's a terrific opportunity for him -- it's a larger endowment with a larger staff," Vice President for Finance and Treasurer Craig Carnaroli said.

The University has already begun to formulate plans for finding a replacement for Zimmerman, although officials have not determined who will serve in his place during the interim.

"We're in the process of identifying candidates and potential search firms," Carnaroli said, adding that a search firm will likely be hired to assist in selecting a new chief endowment officer.

Commending Zimmerman's progress during his time at the University, Carnaroli said, "I'm personally quite pleased with the advancements we've seen in his tenure."

"For the most recent three-year period... the performance of the endowment was not only positive, 3 and-a-half percent compounded, but exceeded its benchmark by approximately 700 basis points," he added, noting that since Zimmerman came to Penn in 1998, the University's endowment has risen from 18th to 11th in national university endowment comparisons.

Excited about Zimmerman's arrival, Howard Hughes Medical Institute spokeswoman Avice Meehan said the Wharton alumnus meets all the criteria necessary for his new position.

"One of the things I think is important for someone in the investment role here, just as it was at Penn, [is for them] to believe in the mission of the organization," she said.

Using Higdon Barrett to conduct its search for a chief investment officer, Howard Hughes was looking at "initially a very wide net" that was narrowed to three or four final candidates, according to Meehan.

"As our search process proceeded, the search committee... determined Landis was really the person they wanted," she said.

University officials said Zimmerman's contributions would be missed.

"He's done a nice job and we're sad to see him go," Carnaroli said. "On the same token, we like to see good things happen to good people."

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