Universities now taking major gamble on one person

Not just for large powerhouses, this position is now getting filled for all institutions

investment-institutions-positionImagine that you’re in debt, so much so that your house is on your bank’s radar for repossession. You have a little money, but not much, and you feel if only you knew how, you could leverage that money to make more money and keep your house. Heck…maybe even renovate your 1970’s pea-green and pink bathroom. Who could help you leverage your funds?

If that scenario doesn’t sound unusual, that’s because it’s one being faced not only by individuals across the U.S. thanks to the Great Recession, but for universities large and small, looking to leverage funds to keep the campus open and [hopefully] improve upon services.

The answer? Chief Investment Officers (CIOs)—once positions filled only in large powerhouse higher education institutions needing someone to manage large endowments, are now getting filled for small- to mid-sized universities desperate to better leverage manageable funds.

Thanks to the Great Recession, the shaky political climate for public institutions and the lack of state financial support, small to mid-sized universities are “feeling the increases in pressure on investments to perform well,” said Peggy Plympton, consultant for executive search firm Witt/Kieffer. “For those working for colleges and universities, the pressures are compounded if the institution is also experiencing enrollment strain (either too much or too little)…for private institutions, the pressure to keep tuition levels as low as possible also places extreme pressures to ensure that other revenue sources, such as endowment earnings, can fill in the increasing gap.”

This all sounds good…in theory. But is this one position worth the money spent?

(Next page: Can a CIO give good ROI?)

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