Investment return and heavy gift-giving led to big increases in school assets last year.
By Les Christie, CNNMoney.com staff writer
January 22 2007: 11:33 AM EST
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Harvard has a bigger endowment fund than any other school and Tufts' fund posted the biggest increase in 2006, according to a survey released Monday.
The average schools' endowment funds posted a 10.7 percent return on investment during the year, according to the survey of 765 schools by the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO). The S&P 500 gained 13.5 percent for the year.
Harvard's $28 billion endowment grew 13.5 percent last year, including both market returns and gifts.
The strong market doubly benefited endowment funds, according to NACUBO spokeswoman Jessica Shedd. Not only were equity returns higher but alumni and others were more generous with donations. Last year gifts accounted for about 20 percent of the increase in the size of the average endowment fund.
The majority of the average school's endowment (78 percent) was in equities and fixed-income securities.
Some schools fattened their endowment funds far faster than any others. Of the 62 schools with billion-dollar-plus endowments, Tufts University, a private liberal arts school located outside Boston, increased its fund the most, by 43.8 percent to more than $1.2 billion.
Helping feed that growth was Loews Corp. CEO Jonathan Tisch, who donated $40 million to Tufts last year to fund a college of citizenship and public service.
Among the richest schools, Yale, at $18 billion, was a somewhat distant second to Harvard, but its fund expanded at a quicker pace, 18.4 percent.
The Ivies dominate the top of the list with five of the richest 11 schools. Princeton is fifth, Columbia seventh and Penn is 11th. Other top 10 schools included Stanford, which was third with $14.1 billion, Texas (fourth with $13.2 billion) and MIT (sixth with 8.4 billion).
None of the billion-dollar schools lost money; Baylor College of Medicine, at 5.1 percent, increased its endowment by the smallest rate.
The 62 members of the billion-dollar, endowment-fund club