Cornell investment office plans move to NYC

The $6.1bn university endowment’s investment office, which has more than a quarter of its assets in private equity, is considering a move to the Big Apple to source better candidates for its 20-person team.

Cornell University’s investment office, which manages $6.1 billion in assets with a 17.31 percent allocation to private equity, is planning to move to New York City from Ithaca by late 2017, according to the university.

The relocation plan was introduced by the university board of trustees’ investment committee on 7 September and approved by the university interim president Hunter Rawlings a week later, Cornell executive vice president and chief financial officer Joanne DeStefano said in a statement last week.

DeStefano said that the move to New York City will provide a larger pool of candidates who might not have been willing to move to Ithaca, which is more than 200 miles northwest of the financial hub.

The investment office currently has 20 professionals, including chief investment officer Kenneth Miranda, who was hired in April. As PEI previously reported, Miranda was formerly a director of the IMF’s investment office, overseeing about $11.5 billion in assets for the organisation’s retirement plans.

The university said it has begun searching for office space and selecting which of the 20 office staff will relocate. DeStefano said in the statement that any costs incurred from moving to New York City will be offset by higher investment returns for the endowment.

The university is no stranger to the Big Apple, with its Cornell Tech campus situated in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood. Cornell Tech offers Masters, PhD, and post-doctoral programmes with curricula in tech and computer science. Construction is underway to open a new Cornell Tech campus next year on Roosevelt Island just outside of Manhattan.

Cornell’s investment committee, which oversees the policies for the investment office, consists of 15 professionals, including chairman Donald Opatrny; Sanford Weill, former chief executive and chairman of Citigroup; KKR Prisma co-founder Girish Reddy; and Peter Nolan, president of family office Nolan Capital, which makes direct investments in various assets including private equity.

The day after the relocation was announced, Cornell disclosed a loss of 3.3 percent on its investments overall for the fiscal year ended 30 June. University spokesman John Carberry said no further details on the annual performance were available. The university’s investment office declined to comment on the move and on financial results.

The most recent report available outlines performance data for the quarter ended 31 March. According to that report, Cornell’s endowment realised a 0.1 percent loss for the quarter and a 3.1 percent loss for the year, underperforming against its BNY Mellon Foundations and Endowments benchmark. Returns for its private equity portfolio were not available.