Editor’s note: This story is featured in the 2022 year in review.
The Arizona State University endowment posted strong investment returns and giving levels during the COVID-19 pandemic, which means more scholarships, enrichment and research for the university.
The endowment, which is managed by the ASU Foundation for A New American University, rose 66 spots to 116 during fiscal year 2021 out of 720 institutions in the National Association of College and University Business Officers-TIAA Study of Endowments annual study. ASU ranked ahead of the UC San Diego Foundation, the University of Massachusetts Foundation and the University of Oregon Foundation, among others.
More than 100 new endowed funds were added to the ASU endowment, and the endowment’s market value rose from $993 million to $1.25 billion at the end of fiscal year 2021, which ended June 30, 2021.
“ASU posted its second-best year ever and we’ll see next year’s payout increase by about 7%,” said Jeff Mindlin, chief investment officer for ASU Enterprise Partners, the parent company of the ASU Foundation. “The big jump in payout is a combination of market performance and inflation. We’re growing faster than many of our peers, but there is still a need to focus on increasing the endowment in order to continue its impact, given the size of ASU compared with other top tier schools.”
“A $1.25 billion endowment places ASU among a small group of higher education institutions with a permanent asset base of that scale," said Morgan R. Olsen, ASU executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer. “Reaching this scale reflects success both in private fundraising and investment management, but most importantly, enhances the ability to realize greater ASU impact in teaching and learning, research and societal impact.”
The ASU endowment is made up of more than 2,100 endowed funds that are restricted to a specific use or distribution schedule and are permanent gifts that are invested for the long term to provide sustainable financial support to ASU for scholarships and fellowships, professorships and chairs, research and other enrichment activities.
The ASU endowment supports the following: student scholarships and fellowships, faculty professorships, directors and chairs, academic programs and research and Sun Devil Athletics.
Other restricted uses include visiting lecturers and artists, awards, conference expenses, fine arts, performing arts and other areas as specified in the gift agreements.
“These funds are what propel a university from good to great and provide enrichment opportunities beyond state budget allocations,” Mindlin said.
In fiscal year 2021, the ASU endowment elevated justice, equity, diversity and inclusion investment policies as a focal area in the portfolio. This socially responsible investing focus is in addition to its sustainable investing practices, including a Net Zero target for 2035.
“I’m really proud that our long-term three-year and five-year results are ahead of our peers in sustainability, which shows you don’t have to give up returns to be mission aligned,” Mindlin said.
Top photo: ASU Fulton Center building on University Drive. ASU photo