Georgetown’s endowment lost 17 percent of its value in 2009

The Washington Post has the most definitive numbers yet for the hit that Georgetown University’s endowment took in fiscal year 2009. In the midst of a global financial crisis, it’s reporting, the endowment shrunk to $883 million, or by 17 percent. And Georgetown is not alone in its misfortune—far from it. A survey conducted by the National Association of College and University Business Officers found that in 2009, college endowments suffered worse than they had in any time period since the Great Depression.

Of course, the drop doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone. At different points in time in the final months of 2009, the University estimated that its endowment would sink to $900 million or $830 million—with the loss coming not even two years after reinvigorated University management of the endowment had sent it over the billion-dollar mark.

But the Post reminds us that this is not the end of the world for Georgetown. “Georgetown is far less dependent on its endowment than Harvard or Yale universities, which have the largest endowments among U.S. colleges, funding only 6 percent of its operating costs with endowment dollars,” it writes.

The Voice‘s Sam Sweeney detailed the University’s response to the capital crunch in a terrific September cover story. Georgetown made budget reductions that delayed faculty and staff salary increases through 2009 and for senior administrators through June 2010. At the same time, it actually raised its financial aid by 18 percent.

And of course, the endowment is already recovering. As of December, it had already grown to $957 million. “Despite its conservative positioning,” University spokesperson Andy Pino wrote in an e-mail to Vox, “the endowment has participated in some of the market recovery, returning 8 percent during the first quarter of fiscal year 2010.”

Photo from Flickr user werewegian used under a Creative Commons license.

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