Harvard Takes a Hit

The president of Harvard sent a letter out last month:

I write today about the global economic crisis and its implications for us at Harvard.

We all know of the extraordinary turbulence still roiling the world's financial markets and the broader economy. The downturn is widely seen as the most serious in decades, and each day's headlines remind us that heightened volatility and persisting uncertainty have become our new economic reality.

For all the challenges such circumstances present, we are fortunate to be part of an institution remarkable for its resilience. Over centuries, Harvard has weathered many storms and sustained its strength through difficult times. We have done so by staying true to our academic values and our long-term ambitions, by carefully stewarding our resources and thoughtfully adapting to change. We will do so again.
It seemed rather overwrought to me. It's well known that Harvard's endowment is enormous. Now this report today tells us that Harvard's endowment lost 22% of its value in 4 months!

Harvard University's endowment suffered investment losses of at least 22% in the first four months of the school's fiscal year, the latest evidence of the financial woes facing higher education.

The Harvard endowment, the biggest of any university, stood at $36.9 billion as of June 30, meaning the loss amounts to about $8 billion. That's more than the entire endowments of all but six colleges, according to the latest official tally.

Harvard said the actual loss could be even higher, once it factors in declines in hard-to-value assets such as real estate and private equity -- investments that have become increasingly popular among colleges. The university is planning for a 30% decline for the fiscal year ending in June 2009.
Yipe! Someone needs to be held accountable for this. Those responsible should be forced to take their multi-million dollar golden parachutes and get lost!

Ann says: Obviously, you aren't a Grinnell grad! If you were, you would know to look over any story about college endowments for a mention of Grinnell--which has long had the second biggest per-student endowment, second only to your Harvard.

And there it is in paragraph 8:
In Iowa, Grinnell College's endowment dropped 25%, to $1.2 billion.
Hah! I laugh at your puny 22% drop! And take pride in my alma mater's 25% wipe-out!