Washington University Reaps ‘Game-Changing’ 65% Endowment Gain

Washington University Reaps ‘Game-Changing’ 65% Endowment Gain

Washington University in St. Louis reported a 65% return for its endowment in fiscal 2021, driven by strong gains in global equities and private investments.

That added $5.7 billion to the fund, which was valued at a record $15.3 billion for the year ended June 30, the school said in an emailed statement Monday.

“This is a game-changing moment for us as an institution,” Chancellor Andrew Martin said. The gains will bolster academic initiatives and student financial support, he said.

U.S. college endowments are expected to post outsize returns for the period after domestic stocks reached record highs and private equity and venture capital investments paid off. Endowments increased a median 27% in the period, the most since 1986, according to Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service data. The S&P 500 advanced 41%, with dividends reinvested.

Washington University’s global equity portfolio gained 71.5% and its buyout, venture capital, distressed debt and growth equity investments rose 82%, Chief Investment Officer Scott Wilson said in an interview. 

Wilson, 45, revamped the fund since joining the school in 2017. He turned over about $6 billion of its holdings selling private equity stakes on the secondary market and pulled about $3.6 billion from equity and hedge funds.

The investment office’s staff traveled to Asia to research companies poised to gain from rising consumer spending. Through an equities fund, the endowment holds stocks including Sea Ltd., a Singapore-based online gaming and e-commerce company that has more than doubled in value in the year ended June.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.