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The Ivy Debt Sweepstakes

One would think that a Board of Trustees heavy laden with MBA’s would at least keep the College’s finances sound — even if they have nothing to say about academic innovation. But no. This space has long lamented the fact that the College’s endowment went from the Ivy’s fastest growing between 1990-2000 to the slowest growing since 2000. And what the endowment hasn’t provided, the adminstration has drawn in increased debt and the second highest student tuition/room and board/fees in the Ivies.

That sad performance has not passed unnoticed. In a piece in the Cornell Alumni Magazine (“The Other Debt Crisis”) that reviews the Ivy debt binge of the last decade, the authors point out Cornell’s burgeoning indebtedness: today Big Red has 38.4 cents of debt for every dollar in its endowment. Dartmouth comes in second in the Ivies at 32.3 cents, even though we have more endowment dollars/student than anyone except Harvard, Yale and Princeton:

Cornell Debt1.jpg

In 2000, we had only 11 cents of debt for every dollar of endowment funds; at that time, Cornell had 15 cents of debt. We can’t go on this way.

Our awful management has not gone unnoticed by the ratings agencies, as the article notes:

Cornell Debt.jpg

Phil has a lot of work to do.


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