The Penn Office of Investments is responsible for investing the University’s endowment and pension assets.
About the Endowment
Penn’s endowment provides critical support for the University’s goal of becoming the most inclusive, innovative, and impactful university in the world. Totaling $13.8 billion as of June 30, 2018, the endowment is comprised of nearly 7,000 individual endowment funds benefiting the University’s schools, centers, and the University of Pennsylvania Health System. The endowment supports a wide range of purposes across the institution, including scholarships, world class academic instruction, innovative research, and outstanding medical care.
Every year, the endowment distributes money to support the operating budget of the University. Penn’s annual target payout is 5% of each endowment fund. The exact payout in any given year is determined by Penn’s spending rule, which smooths the impact of short-term changes in portfolio value on the amount of the spending distribution. The spending rule has enabled steady growth in endowment distributions over time, with distributions growing by over 10% per year over the past decade. Annual distributions from the endowment now support 13% of the University’s academic budget, up nearly two-fold over the past ten years. In aggregate, the endowment has paid out over $3.0 billion over the past decade to support the operations of the University.
The Office of Investments staff currently consists of 26 investment, operations, and administrative professionals. A distinguished Investment Board, consisting of Penn alumni and University leadership, oversees the activities of the Office.
The vast majority of Penn’s endowment is invested in the Associated Investments Fund (AIF), a pooled investment vehicle in which the many individual endowments and trusts hold units.
The AIF returned 12.9% in fiscal 2018, increasing by $1.4 billion to a total value of $12.3 billion after spending, gifts, and other transfers. The broad endowment ended the year at $13.8 billion, an increase of $1.6 billion.
Global equity markets produced solidly positive returns in fiscal 2018. Penn’s equity-oriented asset classes benefited from this backdrop. Outperformance relative to Penn’s composite benchmark (a blend of asset class benchmarks) was driven by notable relative performance in the international equity, emerging equity, and private equity portfolios.
Over longer periods, Penn’s performance has consistently outpaced the composite benchmark. Importantly, Penn’s long term performance has enabled the AIF to exceed its goal of maintaining purchasing power after spending distributions.