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Yale chief investment officer Swensen dies of cancer


  • I used to live in New Haven and know people who worked with him. He was truly a very modest man who could have made billions on Wall Street but instead stayed at Yale almost his entire career. He certainly got paid well ( I think more than Yale President ie around $1,000,000) but clearly made a lot less than he could have elsewhere.

    His goal was to make money for Yale so they could increase financial aide so no student who was admitted would be unable to attend due to lack of money.

    He certainly increased the endowment. It is hard to tell how much of that increase truly went just to financial aide, and most of the other Ivies have the same policy and efforts now.

    However, while they claim they offer enough aide to everyone who needs it, their definition of a parent's need and the parent's are frequently very different.

    He also seems to have had a high moral standard as he refused to invest with some of Wall Street's more unsavory characters ( ie Steve Cohen)

    both of his books on portfolio management are well worth reading. The one on endowments killed the "60/40" model for endowments, although individuals cannot invest in a lot of the things he did like excellent private equity and timber.

    His book for individual investors is good, with the usual advice you hear from Buffet, Bernstein etc.. Diversify Index funds don't time the market etc.

  • My neighbor has a Senior at Yale. They are of modest means and felt Yale was generous and when the Dad lost his job, Yale increased the financial aide. RIP.
  • edited May 2021
    Mr. Swenson transformed the institutional investment community.
    His "Yale Model" allocated considerable capital to alternative assets and was widely imitated by other endowments. He mentored numerous investment professionals who are now associated with other university endowments (Princeton, MIT, Univ. of Penn., Bowdoin, Wesleyan). Mr. Swenson could have pursued a very lucrative career on Wall Street, but his loyalty to Yale and its students was a higher priority.
    May he rest in peace...
  • edited May 2021
    John Authers wrote the following informative article about David Swensen.
  • edited May 2021
    bee said:
    I viewed David Swensen's talk (72 minutes) referenced in Nick Maggiulli's blog post.
    Highly recommended!
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