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Berkeley Endowment CIO to Step Down

John-Austin Saviano plans to exit, II has learned — the latest example in an epidemic of turnover at elite US endowments.

The University of California Berkeley’s investment chief John-Austin Saviano intends to step down in coming weeks, according to an internal email reviewed by II.

Saviano’s exit would bring to a close his inaugural tenure as CIO and president of the Berkeley Endowment Management Company, a standalone investment office launched in 2009. He did not specify where his next role might be, indicating that it may be an open decision.

“I’ll be at Cal for a while to help with transitioning while beginning the shift into this new phase,” Saviano wrote. “Whether institutions or very large families who are planning to launch an investment function, organizations who might need interim CIO services or help picking a consulting or OCIO [outsourced-CIO] relationship, I’ll continue to serve the same institutional investor community. I may also work with a few select GPs on fund launch and marketing plans.”

Neither Saviano nor the Berkeley spokesperson contacted responded immediately to requests for comment.

Saviano’s role is one of several with the ‘chief investment officer’ title under the University of California umbrella. A central team in Oakland runs system-wide assets from the Office of the President — roughly $100 billion in retirement, operating capital, and endowment funds. UC CIO Jagdeep Bachher serves as investment chief to this overarching program, and reports to the Board of Regents. Still, many UC campuses choose to maintain their own portfolios in parallel, and staff in-house management teams.

Establishing Berkeley’s portfolio company “has been a highlight of my career,” Saviano wrote in the email. “Berkeley’s mission, students and faculty are an enduring inspiration. To have work that is both intellectually satisfying and has the opportunity to make a difference to such an institution has been a real gift.”

Saviano remains listed on the office’s website as president and CIO, and succession plans remain unclear.

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