10/27/2020 update: This is very strange and troubling. (Full disclosure: I’m just an economist, not a finance professor or auditor, nor am I a UO Board of Trustees member charged by state law with a fiduciary responsibility to UO.)
A month ago I put up the post below, centered around the UO Foundation endowment’s poor recent investment returns. Part of the post was the figure on the top, comparing the Foundation’s returns on its endowment with its own benchmarks. I got this from the Foundation’s website. The Foundation has now changed the information on its website, substituting the figure on the bottom:
Yes, you’re reading the numbers on those dark green bars correctly – don’t let the sneaky change in the y-axis scale fool you. The UO Foundation has retroactively lowered the 1-5 year benchmarks they use to compare their returns with.
The UO Board of Trustees – which includes many people with finance expertise, including Chair Chuck Lillis, who’s lost lawsuits about his past due diligence failures – meets on Thursday to hear from UO Foundation President Paul Weinhold.
The questions should be interesting. An obvious one would be “you including dividends in that gray bar?” Here’s hoping they don’t stop there.
9/23/2020: UO Foundation CIO Jay Namyet’s bad investment streak costs UO ~$50M
But it’s been good for him of course. From 2015 to 2018 – the last year they’ve released pay data – the Foundation trustees have seen fit to increase Namyet’s total compensation from $417K to $572K. Taking logs that works out to a 34% increase over 3 years:
Unfortunately for UO, his investment metrics have not matched these pay increases:
That’s down roughly $50M over 3 years, relative to the benchmarks. And, in an unusual exhibition of transparency from Foundation CEO Paul Weinhold that can’t bode well for Namyet, the Foundation itself is now admitting this:
The Foundation’s benchmarks are also low, and poorly defined:
“Because the Foundation’s investment mission is to prudently maintain the purchasing power of the endowment over long periods of time, its benchmark is goal rather than index oriented.”
Compare this with, say UC-Boulder’s Foundation, which has explicit, higher benchmarks, and much better performance. For example, over 10 years CU’s benchmark index funds returned 8.9%, while the UO Foundation’s benchmark was 6.8%.
What went wrong at UO? I don’t know, but a guess would be that Namyet’s large investments in offshore private equity – including a long-term play in Alberta tar sands – finally started getting marked to actual market prices.
A previous post on Namyet’s nasty emails to the UO student CO2 divestment group is here. Given how much this has cost us, it seems trivial to cite The Three Amigos, but is it possible that Namyet was really angry about something else?
9/12/2016: The Emerald has the story here, and it’s on the UO Divest facebook page here. Back in April, Foundation CFO Jay Namyet was writing nastygrams like this to our students about their efforts to get the secretive UO Foundation to join the CO2 divestment movement:
Subject: RE: follow up meeting
Date: 2016/03/30 14:14
From: Jay Namyet <email@example.com>
To: [UO Divest undergraduate student]
[UO Divest undergraduate student],
No, indeed we did not. As I told you, based on your conduct, our dialogue was over. I hope in years to come you will appreciate a life’s lesson in this affair. That is what a university experience is all about.
From: [UO Divest undergraduate student]
Sent: Wednesday, March 30, 2016 2:11 PM
To: Jay Namyet <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: follow up meeting
I know we didn’t end our last meeting on the best note, but we’d be happy to try and get a fresh start and meet again to discuss divestment sometime this term if you’re willing. Let me know.
[UO Divest undergraduate student]
On 2015/04/09 18:30, Jay Namyet wrote:
Great, we are in agreement then, no more dialogue.
Sent from Outlook