Tulane appointed Richard Chau as the private university’s chief investment officer (CIO) on Tuesday. Chau will be responsible for managing the university’s endowment and related long-term investment assets.
In his new role, Chau replaces long-time CIO Jeremy Crigler, who retired in September 2020 after holding the position for more than 12 years. Crigler left a legacy of strong investment performance, professionalization, and growth, moving the endowment’s performance into the top quartile in every period for 10 years, and elevating the fund to rank among the country’s “highest-performing endowments,” according to an August 2020 statement.
“Jeremy was a builder,” Chau said in an interview with Institutional Investor. “His first task was to find an office space, so he really built from the ground up. And he really did that throughout his 12 or 13 years as CIO, from the office space to the team – and of course, the portfolio.”
“Not Just Throwing Darts”
Chau said he hopes to continue building on Crigler’s foundational work and eventually take it to the next level. The central challenge: The endowment is “undersized,” touting around $2 billion in assets under management today, Chau said.
“I don’t think that should limit us,” he said. “We should be thinking as if we were a $5 billion or $10 billion endowment, because one day, we will be. I want us to be seen as a top-notch, sophisticated endowment office that can compete with anyone.”
Before his appointment, Chau, who joined Tulane’s endowment in 2013, was responsible for building and managing the fund’s private equity and real assets portfolios. According to the university, he also contributed to the endowment’s overall investment strategy and policy, asset allocation, portfolio construction, reporting, risk management, cash planning, and liquidity management.
After Crigler’s retirement, Chau became interim CIO. Chau said his appointment is a testament to the entire office, which experienced zero turnover after Crigler’s departure.
“I think the committee liked what we were doing,” he said. “They became comfortable with our process and realized that we’re not just throwing darts.”
Looking forward, Chau said he hopes to build the endowment’s portfolio, hire more talent to join the office, and establish strong investment strategies to keep up with an increasingly competitive market.