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University of Georgia Endowment Picks New CIO

Emory's endowment has lost its public equities chief to UGA, Institutional Investor has learned.

  • By Leanna Orr

The University of Georgia Foundation has hired Jason Bull, a longtime managing director with Emory University's endowment, as its chief investment officer, according to a UGA Foundation spokesperson.

UGA's search committee tapped local investment talent in hiring Bull, a first-time CIO, to manage the $1.2 billion endowment portfolio that helps fund the foundation. Bull currently oversees public equities at Emory Investment Management in Atlanta, Georgia, where he has spent the last ten years. 

"We're thrilled to have Jason fill this role as we continue to provide more resources through the success of the Commit to Georgia Campaign," said Kelly Kerner, executive director for the UGA Foundation and vice president for development and alumni relations, in a statement to Institutional Investor

"He has the strong technical background in investments and extensive endowment experience that we need," Kerner added. "I'm confident he will also bring enthusiasm and dynamism to this new leadership role."

Before joining the now $7 billion Emory endowment in 2008, Bull spent two years at Goldman Sachs Group, according to his LinkedIn profile. He began his career in 2001 as an analyst for SEI Investments, which he followed up with a master of business administration from Emory's Goizueta Business School.

UGA, based outside of Atlanta in Athens, Georgia, has an ambitious fundraising campaign underway to raise $1.2 billion for the foundation by 2020. Bull is set to inherit a growing fund, valued at an all-time high of $1.2 billion on June 30, according to the foundation's latest annual report.

Record donations, including $827 million from the campaign, and strong fiscal 2017 investment returns helped boost the endowment's value, the report shows.

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Many public institutions have moved to professionalize their investment operations once around UGA's fund size — $1 billion of assets.

Rutgers University in New Jersey, for instance, hired its first CIO in 2016, when the fund reached $1 billion. Like UGA, Rutgers selected a regional institution's asset-class head with deep roots in the area. By all accounts, Rutgers' strategy has worked well so far, nearly two years into CIO Jason MacDonald's tenure. 

The UGA Foundation is managed by a board of trustees comprised of 51 volunteer members, according to the endowment's fiscal 2017 report. In addition to fundraising and advising leadership, the report says these trustees "manage the financial assets of the Foundation for the long-term benefit and enhancement of the university." 

But the incoming CIO will bring with him a decade of experience investing a much larger endowment portfolio, which, as Kerner said in his statement, the organization needs.

Bull declined to comment. As of late Wednesday, he remained listed as a managing director on the Emory Investment Management website. 

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