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University of Victoria Endowment Fund

Name: Financial Planning and Operations – University of Victoria

Assets Under Management: $1.3 Billion (Source: University of Victoria on 3/31/2014)

Annual Report: University of Victoria 2013–2014 Audited Financial Statements

Portfolio Insights: “The University of Victoria’s 2012 renewed Strategic Plan, “A Vision for the Future–Building on Excellence,” reaffirms the vision, mission and goals of our university and our commitment to the highest standards of excellence. Its vision of being “a university of choice for outstanding students, faculty and staff from British Columbia, Canada and the world” remains the hallmark of our institution. The renewed strategic plan reasserts its commitment to: “providing a high quality learning and research environment;” “integrating teaching, learning, research and civic engagement across the disciplines;” “employing our core strengths to benefit our external communities;” providing “environments for work and study that are safe, supportive, inclusive and healthy;” and ensuring “public and internal accountability.” (Source)

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Top University of Victoria Endowment Fund Headlines:

1) The University of Victoria Foundation, established in 1954, is responsible for managing more than $300 million in over 1100 endowment funds. The Foundation board employs investment counsel to advise on fund management and attempts to produce investment returns that provide stable distributions and protect the value of the funds against inflation. (Source)

2) Professors at the University of Victoria are demanding the school’s administration freeze all new investment in fossil fuels and initiate a three-year divestment plan. The university endowment fund has about $21 million currently invested in fossil fuels.

In an open letter addressed to Lisa Hill, chair of the University of Victoria Foundation and copied to university president Jamie Cassels, faculty members voiced concerns over the ethical and financial viability of fossil fuel investments, noting “the growing North American movement, led by students, to see their universities act as moral leaders for their communities by disinvesting from such companies.” (Source)

3) However, the University of Victoria Foundation, which manages the $370-million endowment fund – used for scholarships, bursaries and research –  wrote to the university’s board of governors in September saying that it would maintain its current responsible investment policies that incorporate environmental, social and governance considerations. As part of the Foundation’s efforts to explore direct involvement in organizations that promote responsible investing, the board voted to become a signatory to the United Nations Principals for Responsible Investment. (Source)

4) The University of Victoria (UVic), founded in 1963, ranks high in national and international reviews for a relatively small and new university. In 2012, 16,863 undergraduate and 3,042 graduate students attend UVic, taught by 1,073 faculty. UVic highlights its leadership in sustainable energy technologies, marine sciences, co-op placements and aboriginal law.

UVic prides itself in excellence in teaching and research. In teaching, UVic has consistently earned a topthree placement in Maclean’s annual rankings of comprehensive universities. UVic’s commitment to student support is emphasised. In 2012, UVic gave out $32.5m in scholarships and bursaries (averaging $1,633 per student). Maclean’s cited UVic’s faculty for excellence: UVic faculty holds 36 coveted Canada Research Chairs, won national teaching awards and, with former members, 45 faculty are Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada. MacLean’s also recognized UVic’s results in promoting access and achievement for Indigenous students. (Source)

5) University of Victoria (British Columbia) Foundation hired Aon Hewitt as investment consultant, said Andrew Coward, the university’s assistant treasurer. Towers Watson was the C$300 million (US$286 million) foundation’s previous consultant, Mr. Coward said. The firm was allowed rebid. Aon Hewitt will provide quarterly investment performance measurement, investment strategy and asset allocation services for the foundation. (Source)

About Richard C. Wilson