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Northwestern endowment is back to $7 billion

The endowment fund that helps keep Northwestern University going financially, especially when times get tough, is currently valued at about $7 billion, President Morton Schapiro said recently in a message to the Northwestern community.Thus, it “has recovered most of the losses experienced during the financial downturn,” he said.

The university’s endowment reached its high point of $7.4 billion in April 2008 before the recession erased about $2 billion in market value, necessitating a number of austerity moves.

“While Northwestern weathered the economic crisis of the past few years far better than most colleges and universities,” he said, “we nonetheless felt its impact.” He gave credit to the managers of the various schools and departments for finding ways to reduce costs and increase efficiency.

“While we still face economic challenges,” the president added, “we continue to have balanced budgets and impressive financial results, which have made it possible to support many of our strategic commitments.”

Fundraising for the university has held up well, he said, equaling 2010 results, while new gifts and commitments increased by more than 11 percent. Fundraising in the current fiscal year, which ends August 31, “is going very well,” Schapiro said.

The president cited a number of ongoing projects on the Evanston campus, including major renovations to several residence halls and additions to the Technological Institute.

“Planning and design is just about complete for the Southeast Campus Development Plan, which features transformative new facilities for the Bienen School of Music and the School of Communication,” he said, “and we are moving forward with a major renovation of the primary building for the humanities, Kresge Hall, and the construction of a spectacular new building for the Kellogg School of Management.”

Schapiro noted that while intercollegiate athletics commands a high profile at the university, “almost all of that area’s budget comes from ticket sales, sponsorships, and revenues from being a member of the Big Ten Conference.”

Even though the university provides support for financial aid for student athletes, Schapiro noted, “we are one of a small number of schools that is not forced to subsidize athletics with a large reallocation from the academic enterprise.”

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio stations and business-oriented magazines.

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