R.I.P. David Swensen; 67

David Swensen, the chief of Yale’s endowment fund, died Wednesday evening at 67 after a nine-year battle with cancer. 

Known for laying the groundwork for the modern venture capital- and private equity industries, Swensen made Yale’s endowment office the hottest place on campus. He diverted Yale’s money from just stocks and bonds into more alternative assets like hedge funds, real estate, and even timber (he knew).

David Swensen Net Worth 2021: Yale Endowment's Pioneer ...
  • Swensen’s strategies grew Yale’s endowment from $1.3 billion in 1985 → $31.2 billion in 2020. It’s currently the second largest university endowment, trailing only Harvard’s. 
  • In 2019, Yale’s endowment accounted for about a third of its entire operating budget.

The “Yale model.” Boasting returns better than some top hedge fund managers, Swensen could have traded it all in for a glamorous Wall Street high rise and a cartoonishly eye-popping salary, but he remained dedicated to the university. Swensen instilled the same principles in his mentees, who were scouted by private sector firms before ultimately following in his higher-ed footsteps.



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