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Columbia University’s Endowment Chief to Resign

A rocky stretch continues for the vaunted Ivy League fund.

The leader of Columbia University’s $11 billion endowment Peter Holland plans to step down in September, according to the school.  

He does not have a successor in place. 

“Columbia president Lee C. Bollinger has appointed a search committee to launch a national search for Holland’s successor,” the statement said. “The current chairman of the Investment Management Company, Andrew F. Barth, will serve on that committee, along with a number of current and previous trustees of the institution.”

Holland has been an executive at the Columbia Investment Management Company nearly since its formation in 2003. 

Holland spent years as chief investment officer and second-in-command to star CEO Narv Narvekar, succeeding him in late 2016 when Narvekar left to try and revive Harvard’s washout of an investment office. To backfill Holland as CIO, Columbia promoted then-managing director Tim Donohue. 

The leadership transition has not been entirely smooth, senior-staffturnover and last year’s investment returns suggest.  

Donohue stayed for less than three years; Holland will have lasted just under four years in the CEO role. 

[II Deep Dive: Columbia University Loses CIO to Hawaii Endowment]

Columbia’s 3.8 percent investment returns in the 2019 fiscal year put the school in an unfamiliar position: Last place among Ivy League endowments. Over longer horizons, Columbia’s track record stands out as one of best in its peer group. 

“For the past seventeen years, Peter Holland has been integral to the growth of Columbia’s endowment and to securing long-term returns that place Columbia among the top of our peer group,” said chairman Barth. “Peter successfully recruited and developed a talented and experienced team that positions us well for future growth. We are grateful for the leadership he has provided and for all that he has done for the university.”

Barth and his fellow search committee members will be in charge of finding their next CEO in what’s certain to be a highly competitive process. Columbia did not say whether it had retained an executive recruiter, but nearly all elite institutions do so in such situations. 

The investment office is based in New York City, and pays handsomely by institutional standards. Holland earned $3.8 million in salary and bonuses in 2017, tax filings show. Including deferred compensation, retirement benefits, and the like, Columbia paid the endowment CEO $6.5 million that year. 

In the statement, Holland described leading the investment team as “a unique and enormously rewarding experience.”

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