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School's out...of money

Harvard's record endowment shrinks for 1st time since 2016

Harvard University's endowment, the largest of any university, lost $2.3 billion this year, making it the first negative year for the school since 2016. This 1.8 percent loss on endowment investments comes just after a record high year in 2021 when Harvard saw 33.6 percent returns, Forbes reports. 

The endowment comes from over 14,000 individual funds that are invested as a single entity and managed by an investment firm called the Harvard Management Company (HMC), which is owned by the university, CNN Business explains. The loss is attributed to the "poor performance of global equity markets" as well as Harvard's commitments to climate goals, according to HMC CEO N.P. "Narv" Narvekar. The university's climate goals impacted the endowment because many of the investors were invested in the "conventional" energy sectors like fossil fuels, CNN Business continues. 

Harvard's endowment almost fully funds the university's work including research funding, financial aid, and general preservation. Despite the loss, Harvard still called its endowment of $50.9 billion a "very good result" given the current economic backdrop, Reuters reports. However, university officials acknowledge that last year's gain "has been muted by this year's market reversals."

Other universities also experienced endowment losses this year, with all the other Ivy Leagues besides Yale University, the only Ivy to gain, and Princeton University, which has yet to report at all, reporting losses, Forbes adds. Columbia University faced the largest loss of 7.6 percent.