Mount Holyoke Endowment Needs its First-Ever CIO

Recruiting has just begun for the $780 million fund.

Mount Holyoke College (Bigstock photo)

Mount Holyoke College

(Bigstock photo)

Mount Holyoke College — the oldest of the Seven Sisters women’s colleges — is searching for its first-ever chief investment officer.

An investment committee of expert volunteers has until now overseen the endowment, which was worth $780 million as of June 30, 2018, according to a yet-unpublished job description. Mount Holyoke officials are looking to add a dedicated in-house investment professional to take over daily management of the portfolio.

“This is an exciting opportunity, as it is the first CIO Mount Holyoke will have had,” executive recruiter Anne Keating told Institutional Investor in an interview. The college has retained her firm, Fraser Keating Associates, to guide the search. “The person will be an officer of the college,” she said. “They will be charged with establishing an investment office and ensuring that the portfolio has outstanding performance.”

Mount Holyoke wants an experienced institutional investor who has worked as an allocator to asset managers or as a consultant, according to the job description. “This is a great opportunity for someone to contribute broadly across all asset classes,” Keating said. Private equity experience is a must, as is identifying with the college’s mission. The CIO will report to Mount Holyoke’s president and “preferably” be based in Boston — not on the South Hadley, Mass., campus — according to the document.

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Universities often choose to hire an internal CIO when portfolio assets approach the $1 billion mark. At that scale, oversight may become too onerous for a committee and insourcing makes financial sense. University of Georgia, for example, hired its inaugural CIO Jason Bull in 2018, when assets hit about $1.2 billion. Rutgers University in New Jersey had $1 billion when it brought on now-CIO Jason MacDonald.

For Mount Holyoke, creating the investment chief role “is not a question of fixing something that’s broken, but ensuring there’s a constant focus on the portfolio,” Keating said. “This person will help to determine or structure how Mount Holyoke’s investment office functions, which would include hiring other investment professionals.” College officials hope to have a CIO in place by fall.

The private, liberal arts college was founded in 1837 as Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. The endowment generates about one quarter of its annual operating revenue.