About the Endowment
In the years since Northwestern’s founding in 1851, alumni, parents, and friends have generously supported the University’s efforts to provide an unparalleled education for its students and conduct cutting-edge research in a range of important areas. When a gift is designated to the Endowment, Northwestern accepts responsibility for ensuring that these contributions fulfill and sustain their intended purposes in perpetuity.
The Endowment Fund is stewarded by the Investment Committee of the University’s Board of Trustees. Guided by the committee’s policies, the University’s Investment Office invests in a widely diversified pool of assets. For the majority of the investments in the Endowment, the Investment Office employs many of the world’s most successful outside managers for public equities, fixed income, absolute return, private equity, and real asset strategies.
The Investment Office directly manages the remainder of the Fund (about 6 percent) internally, chiefly within the Fixed Income portfolio. Directed by William H. McLean, the Investment Office is composed of 17 staff members, including nine Chartered Financial Analysts.
Northwestern University's 1851 Charter - creates a corporation and a Board of Trustees with "perpetual succession" authorized "to acquire, hold and convey property...solely for the purpose of education." The Charter also authorizes the Trustees to "place out at interest, or otherwise depose of "property" for the use of said institution in such manner as to them shall seem most beneficial."
The By-Laws of the Board of Trustees establish an elected Committee on Investments to "advise the Board of Trustees with respect to investment and endowment, trust and general funds of the University" and to be responsible for developing and recommending...policies relating to such investments" and for "authorizing by resolution all appropriate actions by the officers or agents of the University" (Investment Office).
The Trustees of the University are subject to the standards applicable to Trustees generally, namely the Prudent Investor Rule. Trustees shall "display the skill and prudence which an ordinarily capable and careful man would use in that conduct of his own business of like character." Specifically with regard to investing trust funds, the Trustees shall "use the care and skill of a reasonably prudent investor."