The Bowdoin College endowment, of which approximately 45.8 percent is restricted to the support of student financial aid, generated an investment return of -1.4 percent for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2016.
The Bowdoin investment return of -1.4 percent compares with the mean return of -2.9 percent for all college and university endowments as reported by Cambridge Associates, a firm that tracks the performance of foundations and endowments nationwide.
According to Cambridge Associates, Bowdoin’s fiscal year return is in the top quartile of peer returns, defined as those endowments generating an investment return for the period of greater than -2.0 percent.
“The team managing Bowdoin’s endowment—led by Senior Vice President for Investments Paula Volent and our Investments Committee—continues to do a terrific job in what has been a very challenging environment,” said Bowdoin President Clayton Rose. “Bowdoin’s ability to navigate highly volatile financial markets allows us to maintain our commitment to need-based financial aid and excellence in our liberal arts education and experience.”
As of June 30, 2016, the three-, five-, and ten-year annualized returns for Bowdoin’s endowment were 10.4 percent, 9.9 percent, and 8.5 percent, respectively—all in the first percentile among comparative college and university annualized returns, where the respective mean returns were 5.0 percent, 5.2 percent, and 5.0 percent.
On June 30, 2016, Bowdoin’s endowment was valued at $1.340 billion. During the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the College transferred approximately $21.2 million in gifts and other additions to the endowment. The endowment provided $50.0 million to the annual operations of the College. Of this, approximately $22.7 million supported financial aid. Admission to Bowdoin is “need-blind,” which means students are admitted without regard to their economic need. In 2008, the College adopted a “no-loan” policy, replacing student loans with grants.
Bowdoin’s endowment consists of more than 1600 individual funds earmarked for the perpetual support of a variety of College initiatives. The endowment portfolio is diversified across different asset classes, including domestic and international equities, fixed income, private equity, real estate, and absolute return strategies. All asset classes are invested through a selection of external investment managers or through market indices. The portfolio is structured with a long-term time horizon, with portfolio diversification and manager selection directed toward protecting endowment capital in challenging investment environments, while growing those assets during periods of economic stability and growth.