Columbia University Loses CIO to Hawaii Endowment

After less than three years on the job, Tim Donohue will exit for the $8 billion Kamehameha Schools fund.

Illustration by II

Illustration by II

Columbia University’s chief investment officer is resigning to lead the $8.2 billion Kamehameha Schools endowment, Kamehameha announced late Monday.

Tim Donohue rose to CIO at the Ivy League university in December 2016, following longtime chief Narv Narvekar’s departure for Harvard’s beleaguered endowment.

It is unclear who, if anyone, will directly replace Donohue at Columbia’s $11 billion fund.

He is the second senior investor to leave for an external CIO role since Narvekar’s departure. In February, the $2 billion Cook Children’s Health Care System in Texas hired Columbia managing director Tony Bagwell as its investment chief.

Donohue will take over the top role at Honolulu-based Kamehameha on October 21, the school said. Donohue succeeds Elizabeth Hokada, who is retiring after 14 years at the endowment.

[II Deep Dive: Investment Chief Resigning from Hawaii Endowment]

Recruiting firm David Barrett Partners facilitated the search.

“I am extremely confident of Tim’s ability to lead our investment program and build upon the strong foundations that have been laid,” Kamehameha Schools CEO Jack Wong said in a statement. “He is a proven leader with the expertise to drive the investment performance needed to sustain our mission.”

The Hawaii endowment dates back to 1884, when the last descendant of Hawaii’s great unifier King Kamehameha I bequeathed 375,000 acres of ancestral land to an educational trust for Hawaiians, which established Kamehameha Schools.

That gift had grown into an $8 billion diversified investment portfolio and $3.5 billion package of Hawaiian real estate as of June 30, 2017, according to the schools’ annual report.

Under Hokada’s leadership, the endowment returned 8.4 percent annualized for the five years ending June 2017. This was roughly on par with the 8.6 percent median return among its $1 billion-plus peer endowments, NACUBO-Commonfund figures show.

“I can’t think of a CIO job in the country that is more important than this one,” Donohue said. “I look forward to continuing the momentum created by KS’ investment team.”