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The Endowment’s National Ranking

Another way to measure the quality of the College’s financial management is to analyze how the endowment has evolved relative to that of other schools. Have we controlled costs, invested well, and effectively solicited the support of alumni so that the nest egg that keeps on giving grows to the benefit of future students and faculty?

The answer is, not so well. In 1990 we had the 17th largest endowment in the country; today we have fallen to 22nd place. Six non-Ivy schools have done a better job than we have (Texas A&M, Michigan, University of California, Duke, Virginia, and USC), and Vanderbilt has performed less well:

Ivy League Endowment Rankings 1990-2015.jpg

Among the Ivies, Penn has driven forward from 13th place in 1990 to 9th place today. Not a bad performance. Harvard coasts along in first place; no matter how poorly it manages its affairs, it has so much more dough than other schools that won’t lose its top ranking any time soon. Most of the other members of the Ancient Eight have kept their slots or dropped in the rankings (Brown from 27th to 31st; Cornell from 13th to 19th; and Columbia from 6th to 11th).

Regarding the College’s decline, one might imagine that successive administrations have chosen to draw heavily from the endowment to keep the College in especially good fighting trim, but when looking at our falling U.S. News rankings and increasingly down-at-the-heels campus (sure there was $40+ million to renovate the Inn, but look at decrepit Dartmouth Row and a great many tawdry dorms), one can easily see the falseness of that proposition.


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