Drexel University’s endowment totaled $722 million and returned 14.7 percent for the fiscal year ending in June. The strong overall performance of the endowment landed the University in the top 11 percent of endowments and foundations, as ranked by the Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service, which is a leading benchmark for the performance of U.S. institutional assets.
“This has been a very good year in terms of the investment returns on the portfolio,” said Chief Investment Officer and Vice President of Investments Catherine Ulozas.
The Drexel endowment pool represents a total of $652 million, which includes $460 million in investable pooled assets, $132 million in directly held real estate and $59 million in other annuities and trusts. Additionally, the $69 million endowment of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University contributes to the University’s overall endowment. This year, the Academy’s endowment returned 13.3 percent and is composed of $60 million in pooled assets and an additional $9 million in annuities and trusts.
The University’s endowment has returned 8.15 percent annualized for the past five years and 8.05 percent annualized since 1991.
The strong returns and growth are a result of a restructuring by the University's Board of Trustees Investment Committee several years ago, which realigned the endowment’s assets and created a solid asset allocation policy.
“The investment team has a long-term, thoughtful plan to deploy the assets so that over time the endowment can give more and more back to the University,” said Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Operating Officer Helen Bowman. “The groundwork that we laid several years ago, to protect and build the endowment has begun to kick in.”
One of the top performing investments for the fiscal year was the Dragon Fund, an equity portfolio managed by undergraduate students in the LeBow College of Business. This year, the fund returned 26.2 percent.
The students manage the fund through two courses, Applied and Advanced Portfolio Management. The Dragon Fund has been one of the top-performing investments since its inception in 2007 and has returned 12.5 percent annually since then. When the Dragon Fund was started, the students managed $250,000 — and now, 10 years and over 400 students later, the fund totals over $2 million.
“Regardless of investment performance, the Dragon Fund will always be a winner, at least in my mind,” said Ulozas. “Not only do we benefit from the fact that the fund has a positive and continuing performance, but students benefit so greatly from the class and the experience of managing a live portfolio.”
In addition to working with the students on the Dragon Fund, Ulozas and Matthew DeAngelo, an investment manager in the Investment Office, are adjunct professors in the LeBow College of Business. The office regularly employs Drexel students for co-ops to work alongside Ulozas; DeAngelo; Amy Miller, investment manager for private market investments; and Tom Candino, investment analyst and 2015 graduate of the LeBow College of Business.
“We are here to support the University,” said Ulozas. ”Our biggest pride is supporting students and getting to know them personally through our work with the endowment.”