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Endowments Show Strong Gains — and Provoke Controversy

An endowment campaign is raising millions for the upkeep of the Schuster Performing Arts Center in Dayton, Ohio.
An endowment campaign is raising millions for the upkeep of the Schuster Performing Arts Center in Dayton, Ohio.

A survey and analysis by The Chronicle of the nation’s endowments shows strong growth in assets, which are being used to launch dramatic new projects and better prepare balance sheets for the future. The growth is being fueled not just by a booming stock market, but by aggressive fundraising efforts as well.

But not all is rosy with endowments. Experts warn of inflated expectations of stock market performance over the long haul. And Congress is growing increasingly uneasy with the swelling — and untaxed —endowments at many universities.

Meanwhile, many endowments are resisting heightened pressure to divest their holdings of “sin” investments like fossil fuels. And for all the talk of impact investing, most endowments remain wary that it will not produce strong enough returns to maintain their spending power.

Stories about these important trends are included in this special report, along with our interactive providing detailed data on hundreds of the nation’s endowments.