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The second oldest of five sports-loving siblings raised in an observant Catholic home, Malpass is a very big man who played football and baseball in high school. In his senior year he was recruited to play football by a number of prestigious schools, though not by Notre Dame. He headed to South Bend anyway, following an uncle who had graduated five years earlier. He’d grown interested in Notre Dame, he says, watching the football team on TV on Saturday afternoons. Although he never played for Notre Dame, as a junior and senior he put his love of sports — and his burgeoning leadership skills — to work as co–athletic commissioner, with Donovan, in charge of his dormitory’s sports.

When Malpass graduated with a BS in biology in 1984, he, like many new grads, was unsure of his next move. He’d had enough of long stretches in the lab. Instead, he returned to Notre Dame for an MBA in what was then a small business program. He arrived with only $20 in his pocket, in need of a place to live and a job. Father Richard Zang, then CIO and rector of the graduate dorm, hired Malpass as assistant rector. That summer Zang also helped Malpass obtain an internship in the pension consulting group at Irving Trust Co. in New York. He accepted a full-time job there after receiving his MBA in 1986.

Malpass’s Wall Street career was short-lived. The stock market imploded on October 19, 1987. At about that time, Robert Wil­mouth, chairman of the Notre Dame endowment investment committee, a former president of Crocker National Bank and founder, chairman and CEO of the National Futures Association, decided the Notre Dame endowment needed more professional management than a priest like Father Zang could offer.

Word of this opportunity reached Malpass, who had been a dorm mate with Wilmouth’s son Thomas at Notre Dame. He left on the next plane to Chicago for an interview.

Wilmouth wanted a Notre Dame grad who believed in long-term investing and was willing to seek new opportunities for a portfolio that was a standard 70-30 mix of stocks and bonds. “If we wanted to become a top university, we had to have a great endowment,” Wilmouth says. “Father [Theodore] Hesburgh [then the university president] said, ‘We need to grow it to $1 billion, or we’re not going to be in the top tier.’”

On August 1, 1988, Malpass was hired effectively as CIO but given the title assistant investment officer. He swelled the investment office from three to four, including an accountant and secretary. The following spring Zang left after 18 years as CIO, passing the mantle to Malpass. Resources were tight: a one-room office and no computer. But with his new CIO in place, Wilmouth, who chaired the investment committee from 1978 to 1995, began to build out the operation.

Wilmouth, now 85, believes he will be best remembered for hiring Malpass. Others agree. “I don’t know who selected him, but whoever it was had a wonderful eye and was clearly a discerning judge,” says Sequoia Capital’s Moritz. “It was a spectacular selection.”

Like Malpass, Notre Dame’s trustees believe the consistency that comes with longevity has been an important factor in the success of the endowment and a key element of the Notre Dame model. In fact, there have only been three university presidents in 60 years and two investment committee chairmen — Wilmouth and John (Jay) Jordan II of private equity firm Jordan Co. — in 35 years. “I can’t overstate how valuable continuity and long-term perspective are,” Vanguard’s Brennan says. “It gives you confidence they’re going to make good decisions. It’s $8 billion, and you want to make sure it’s as productive as it can be.”

Brennan admits that such longevity “may not be best practice from a governance viewpoint, but successful long-term leadership is a competitive advantage.” Notre Dame’s trustees are elected to successive three-year terms. The governance and nominating committee makes recommendations to the full board. Mandatory retirement is age 70. The one exception: the investment committee. “The way we look at governance is that we’re the only committee that doesn’t rotate. Because the investment world is so complicated, we need to have expertise in investments,” Jordan says. “The continuity of the relationship with Scott and his team is extremely important.”

“The question of [board] rotation is a very vexed one because market cycles do not last only two to five years,” says John Griswold, executive director at the Commonfund Institute, the educational arm of the Wilton, Connecticut, asset manager specializing in nonprofit institutions. Most boards have a limit of two three-year terms, he says. Griswold acknowledges the need for longevity in investment oversight, adding that investment committees traditionally have the longest-serving members.

Early on, Malpass felt the need to articulate a vision for the investment office and turned to Catholic tradition. He recalls: “Twenty-five years ago I had to build a new kind of strategic plan for the office: ‘Today’s stewards for tomorrow’s leaders.’” The idea was borrowed from bodies that oversee the financial assets of religious orders. By the mid-1990s the motto was firmly in place.

Malpass must also work within the social responsibility guidelines of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which proscribes taking stakes in companies that it believes threaten the sanctity of life (makers of contraceptives and abortifacients), sell pornography or certain weapons (personnel land mines), or harm the environment. “We’re not on a witch hunt,” Malpass says. “Our donors want us to earn a competitive return but in a way that reflects our position as a Catholic university.”

Mark Krcmaric, COO of the Notre Dame investment office and a 1980 graduate whose three children also attended the university, describes the design of the office, now 38-strong, as complete and without silos: “The investment team has multiple touch points with all of our managers. Part of that is our culture.” To get there, Malpass added investment accounting and internal legal and operations roles to the office. “Internal lawyers understand what’s important to Notre Dame,” says Krcmaric, who joined in 1998 and has joint MBA-JD degrees from Indiana University.

Over time Malpass has extended his reach. In 1995 he, finance professor Frank Reilly and John Affleck-Graves, a finance professor who now serves as Notre Dame’s executive vice president, started the Applied Investment Management class, in which students run a live portfolio that now has $8 million in long-only U.S. equity. They accept 25 top students each semester. The class travels to Boston, Chicago and New York to meet asset managers.

Seven current members of the investment team were once Malpass students in that class. “As a teacher, Scott cares deeply about them in a one-on-one way,” says Affleck-Graves, an ex officio trustee and member of the investment committee. “There’s not a student that Scott doesn’t spend time with and hear his history. That’s what’s so special. He cares about them as individuals.”

A second course, Global Portfolio Management, is team-taught by Malpass and endowment directors who present modules on different asset classes: equity, private equity, hedge funds. Attorneys Krcmaric and Stephanie Pries, director of investment legal affairs, also teach at Notre Dame’s law school. A Princeton University grad, Pries is the only nonalum on the senior team, but she comes close: Her husband, Notre Dame associate economics professor Michael Pries, received his bachelor’s degree from the university.

There’s room for only one alpha dog in the investment office, and Malpass is it. He wants his staff to find meaning in their work. This may include a religious dimension, such as private capital head Dolezal’s role as server at monthly investment office Masses, or more-professional matters, like channeling investment director Rick Buhrman’s interest in building communities in East Africa into emerging-markets investing. It also can mean taking a risk on a young person, as Wilmouth gambled on him. Sequoia’s Moritz sees that as a key to the CIO’s success. “It’s so tempting to hire more-experienced people and bolt them together and hope you can build a team,” he says. “It requires far more patience and time to develop [young people].”

Affleck-Graves agrees: “He has the great skill at allowing them to be themselves. He guides in a very subtle way and allows them to grow with confidence.”

Malpass does not hide the fact that he favors stability. “We’re not looking for jobs; we’re not going anywhere; we’re in it for the long term,” he explains.

Over the past two decades, only three senior investment directors have left. Mark Yusko departed in 1998 after five years to become CIO at the University of North Carolina before starting his own asset management firm, Morgan Creek Capital Management. Former Notre Dame finance professor Fehrs, who joined the investment office in 1995, left at the end of 1998 to take the CIO job at his alma mater, Cornell. Jonathan Gentry, hired in 1990, was recruited by the Kresge Foundation in 2005.

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