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University of Chicago Endowment Delivers Best Performance Since 2000

Former CIO Mark Schmid goes out with a bang before passing the reins to his long-time mentee Andy Ward.

The last year was a monumental one for the University of Chicago’s office of investments. 

The endowment ended the 2021 fiscal year with $11.6 billion after the investment team delivered a 37.6 percent annual return on investments through the end of June. 

The return is the endowment’s highest since its 1999-2000 fiscal year results. In a Monday statement, the university attributed its recent success to the net impact of fundraising, investment performance, and endowment payout. 

“The university’s investment strategy has evolved over the last decade to manage risk and opportunities for long-term growth,” the statement said. “The investments provide a reliable foundation of support for the University community, including a broad range of programs and initiatives at the University and the Medical Center.”

The strong performance caps off a remarkable career for former CIO Mark Schmid, who retired on September 1 after 12 years at the helm of the endowment. Schmid joined the University of Chicago in 2009 after more than two decades of leading the corporate pensions at first Chrysler and then Boeing.

In October, the University of Chicago appointed Andy Ward to take over from Schmid as chief investment officer and vice president of the office of investments. The appointment marks the second time Ward has succeeded Schmid as CIO: Ward was part of Schmid’s investment team at Boeing and ultimately replaced him as CIO in 2009.

Before Boeing, Ward managed the underwriting assets of insurance subsidiaries at Aon Corporation. In his new role, Ward will be responsible for stewarding the University of Chicago’s endowment assets and managing the 29-person investment team.

“I am honored for the opportunity to return to the University of Chicago,” Ward said in an October statement. “I look forward to leading a world-class investment team at one of the world’s leading research universities.”

Executive search firm David Barrett Partners ran the search. 

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