Markets, gifts responsible for increased University endowment

| Senior News Editor

Washington University’s endowment grew by almost $800 million in the last fiscal year, officials said recently.

The endowment totals $5.35 billion as of June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said the increase is due to both the return on the University’s investments and donor gifts.

The endowment has swung up and down over the past few years. In 2007, Student Life reported that the endowment had topped $5 billion for the first time ever.

However, the endowment reached a recent low during the 2008-09 academic year. The newspaper reported in June 2009 that the endowment had dropped to $4.2 billion, about a 30 percent decrease from its high two years earlier.

Wrighton recently said the endowment may have lost some value in the current fiscal year because of declines in the value of the stock markets.

“Of course, since July 1 we’ve seen declines in measures of market value,” he said.

Following the endowment’s decrease during the 2008-09 fiscal year, the board of trustees cut spending by four percent.

Last year, University expenditures were about $221 million.

According to Wrighton, because of endowment gains, the University will boost spending by about one percent this year. He said this will be an additional $2.21 million. Additional funds may come from new gifts to the University throughout the year.

“Growth in the value of the endowment from our investments and from new gifts means the prospect of additional spendable income for scholarships [and] professorships…and all the things for which endowments have been provided,” Wrighton said.

When asked Sunday night, students formulated ideas for how they would like to see the extra funds used.

“I feel like a lot of our facilities, definitely the Athletic Complex is something that could use money, but it looks like they’ve been renovating a lot of buildings—they did College Hall, now they’re doing Umrath,” senior Erika Antisdale said.

Some students hope the spending will be funneled directly into supporting more students’ educations financially.

“I think a really good thing we could do is give it back to students in the way of scholarships or financial aid…While our portfolio may have done well, some students’ families may not have done so well,” junior Tarek Elessawi said. “I definitely think that a better investment would be in the actual students themselves.”

With additional reporting by Michael Tabb

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