Virginia Tech Foundation CIO Dan Ward Steps Down

The foundation is currently searching for its next investment chief.

LinkedIn photo

LinkedIn photo

Longtime Virginia Tech Foundation CIO Dan Ward has stepped back from his role as chief investment officer at the fund, Institutional Investor has learned.

Ward has transitioned into a portfolio management role. He plans to continue to support VTF “in many other ways” moving forward, according to a source familiar with the matter. Five sources have confirmed his departure.

Recruiter David Barrett has launched a search for Virginia Tech’s next chief investment officer. Alpha Capital Management is concurrently running a search for a nondiscretionary consultant for VTF.

VTF manages Virginia Tech University’s endowment, in addition to an extensive real estate portfolio. According to an allocator familiar with VTF, Ward ran a concentrated portfolio, taking positions in public companies alongside investment managers. The organization’s 2021 annual report noted that one of its most significant return drivers that year was a co-investment in Moderna.

Since June 25, 2021, Moderna’s stock has lost 29 percent of its value. As of midday Tuesday, it was trading around $155.07, compared to $219.94 at the close of VTF’s 2021 fiscal year. The foundation has yet to report its 2022 returns.

The allocator, who described Ward as an “independent thinker,” believes that the VTF board members have generally supported their CIO’s investment views. Board members include Research Affiliates CEO and CIO Christopher Brightman and Hance West, Investure’s co-CIO.

“When I first heard that he had left, I didn’t believe it,” the source said. “I was kind of shocked, to be honest.”

In 2021, VTF brought in a new chief executive officer, Elizabeth McClanahan, to replace John Dooley, who had retired.

In July 2022, the organization hired a consultant to help with staff expansion after VTF doubled in size over the past seven years, Institutional Investor’s Essential Allocator newsletter previously reported. As of June 2021, the foundation’s AUM stood at $1.7 billion.

This story was updated on November 2.