The value of university endowments fell about 23 percent on average in the five months ended Nov. 30, according to two newly released reports analyzed in the New York Times. The steep declines are forcing colleges and universities across the country to contemplate wage freezes, layoffs and a halt to construction projects. The drop found by the reports is the biggest in the value of college and university endowments since the mid-1970s, said John S. Griswold Jr., executive director of the Commonfund Institute, which manages money for educational institutions and other nonprofits. "It's been very sudden in some ways," Mr....

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