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American University Endowment Fund

Name: Office of Finance and Treasurer | American University

Assets Under Management: $425 Million (Source: American University on 6/30/2014)

Annual Report: American University Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 May 1, 2013 – April 30, 2015

Portfolio Insights: “The AU Board of Trustees recently approved a university budget for the next two years that carefully balances the most important needs of our constituents with sound financial management, and maintains momentum for the strategic priorities of the institution, even in a challenging economic climate.

The operating budget for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 totals more than $1.2 billion and the updated capital budget for fiscal years 2014–2018 totals $416 million.

The progress made in the first four years of the university’s strategic plan, American University and the Next Decade: Leadership for a Changing World, will continue in the fifth and sixth years of implementation through the alignment of resources with strategic objectives that target substantial progress on the goals in the plan. These objectives, reviewed by the campus community and approved by the Board prior to budget proposals, guided the work of the University Budget Committee in concert with the Cabinet.” (Source)

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Top American University Endowment Fund Headlines:

1) Four percent of American University’s endowment is invested in fossil fuel companies. The Washington, D.C.-based university said it “focused on the singular question of whether divestment would have a significant effect on investment returns,” the board of trustees said in a statement. It said its financial advisers “could not provide assurance that the effect of divestment would not be insignificant,” thereby determining the board’s decision.

The vote comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed by students against Harvard University to compel that school to get rid of its fossil-fuel investments, alleging that they harm future generations by contributing to global warming.

The divestment movement has enjoyed wins and suffered losses over the past few months. In May, Stanford University, one of the most prestigious and wealthiest in America, announced it would drop coal company holdings from its $18.7 billion endowment fund. In September, the University of California opted to maintain its investments, a decision echoed by other schools, including Harvard. (Source)

2) American University has invested significant resources in key subject areas that cut across schools and departments. Kogod professor Sonya Grier has conducted research in two of those disciplines: health and urban/metropolitan studies.

As an associate professor of marketing in American University’s Kogod School of Business, Sonya Grier has conducted pertinent, compelling research. She’s looked at race in the marketplace, and the nexus between marketing activities and consumer health. Yet, as she points out, there’s still so much consumer data—particularly related to minorities and obesity—waiting to be examined.

For instance, Grier co-authored a paper in a public health journal on the food shopping decisions of African-American females. But she says you’d be hard-pressed to find similar research in marketing. “I can’t think of a study in marketing focused on black women,” she says. This is surprising given that African-American women have high rates of obesity—an issue of growing national concern. (Source)

3) American University’s School of International Service (SIS) announced today that national-security experts Lieutenant General David W. Barno, USA (Ret.) and Dr. Nora Bensahel will join SIS on January 12 as distinguished practitioner-in-residence and distinguished scholar-in-residence, respectively. General Barno, a highly decorated senior officer with over thirty years of military experience, and Dr. Bensahel, a prominent scholar, are preeminent authorities on U.S. national security, defense, and military affairs.

“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Dave and Nora to the School of International Service,” said SIS dean James Goldgeier. “Dave and Nora are very highly regarded experts on national security issues and will add immeasurably to the school’s research, teaching, and activities related to defense and military studies.”

“We are very glad to be joining a school with the reach, depth, and energy of SIS,” said Dr. Bensahel. “We couldn’t imagine a better place to connect scholarship with policy.” General Barno added, “In addition to our policy research, Nora and I will be working on a book on the history and future of warfare. We are both truly excited to collaborate with faculty members and students on this important project.” (Source)

4) American University professors have formed an interdisciplinary group to study the ramifications of Ebola. The Ebola Research and Action Working Group includes Susan Shepler, Thespina (Nina) Yamanis, Maria De Jesus, Rachel Robinson, and Daniel Esser from the School of International Service; Kim Blankenship, a sociology professor from the College of Arts and Sciences; and Jeremy Shiffman and Erdal Tekin in the School of Public Affairs.

“This is a really ad hoc working group that we’ve put together, mostly in response to this crisis,” says Shepler. “And we all have different questions related to the outbreak. Some are more short term, asking ‘How can we be of assistance to those on the ground?’ And some faculty members are looking at more long term social science questions about the impact of Ebola on this region. Others are interested in the politics, the economics.” (Source)

5) For the third year in a row, AU economic students won the regional district College Fed Challenge. They are one of three university teams that advanced to the semi-final competition round at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

The competition challenges teams of university students to analyze economic conditions in the United States and recommend appropriate courses of monetary policy. The challenge is sponsored by Federal Reserve Banks, and judges in the final rounds are Federal Reserve staff members. (Source)

About Richard C. Wilson