Endowment 101

Updated March 26, 2021

What is the endowment?

The Mount Holyoke College endowment is a collection of individual funds — about 1,770 at this time — that are invested in order to generate financial returns. Generally, the corpus is allowed to grow without withdrawals, and a portion of the interest earned is distributed every year to sustain intellectual advancement and excellence of every kind at the College, including attracting and retaining talented faculty and student scholars.

How much is it worth? How has it performed?

As of June 30, 2020, the endowment stood at $789 million. Over the long term it has outperformed its rate of spending. The endowment generated an investment return of 3.9% in FY20, in a tumultuous year that included the beginning of the pandemic. This result places the endowment in the top 15th percentile of more than 400 peer institutions.

How is the endowment used?

Returns from the endowment typically fund a quarter of the College’s annual operating budget. The most significant portion of these distributions fund teaching and research endeavors of our exceptional faculty; admitting and retaining the most qualified students, regardless of their financial circumstances; and student research experiences, internships and global study. Close to 90% of Mount Holyoke’s endowment is restricted, which means the donors designated their gifts for specific purposes.

How does the endowment grow?

The endowment grows through donor gifts and investment returns.

Why is a large endowment beneficial?

Tuition and fees do not cover the full expenses associated with delivering a high-quality education. Without a large and growing endowment, Mount Holyoke would not be able to deliver fully on its mission

How is the endowment invested?

Similar to an individual retirement fund, the endowment is like a nest egg but with a time horizon measured in decades, if not centuries. An endowment must endure inevitable market fluctuations and be a reliable source of funding, year after year. Currently, the Mount Holyoke endowment is diversified across more than 50 investment strategies and is mostly equity driven, with an emphasis on alternative investments. In 2018, the Investment Committee revised the principles section of its Investment Policy Statement to affirm that the endowment will consider return-enhancing investment opportunities in the area broadly defined as ESG — environmental, social and governance.

Who oversees the endowment?

The investment office, led by Chief Investment Officer Ana Yankova ’97, oversees the day-to-day operations of the endowment. Yankova works closely with the Investment Committee — currently comprised of eight volunteer alums who are investment professionals with significant skills and knowledge in institutional investing. The Investment Committee is responsible to the Board of Trustees for the oversight of the endowment