Category Archives: Endowments, Fund-raising and Philanthropy

Board Shows No Interest in Israel Divestment (Updated)

by James A. Bacon

University of Virginia students this week voted two-to-one in favor of a referendum asking the University to “divest its stocks, funds, and endowment from companies that profit from any and all acts of human rights violations across the world.” The referendum specifically asked for UVIMCO, which manages the university’s $14 billion endowment, to audit its holdings and identify corporations financially “implicated” with Israel’s “apartheid regime.”

Thirty percent of the student body participated in the referendum in a process starting Monday and concluding Wednesday. The referendum generated significant publicity on Grounds.

The Board of Visitors had the perfect opportunity this morning to address the divestment issue when it met with UVIMCO’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer. But the topic never came up.

UVIMCO officials reported on their 2023 investment results, and board members did inquire about the investment group’s relationship with the university, its philosophy toward ESG (environmental, social and governance), and its ability to pick specific stocks, bonds and securities. The subject of Israeli divestment was never broached but the dialogue made it clear that purging individual investments would be exceedingly different under UVIMCO’s business model. Continue reading

In 2021 UVIMCO Embraced ESG Investing. How Has That Worked Out?

by James A. Bacon

A University of Virginia student group, UVA Apartheid Divest, is petitioning to hold a referendum demanding that the University of Virginia Investment Management Company (UVIMCO) divest itself of investments in corporations implicated by Israel’s “apartheid” regime.

The petition brings attention to the practice of socially responsible investing adopted by UVIMCO, which manages an endowment portfolio of roughly $14 billion for the university and affiliated organizations. States the website: “UVIMCO promotes ESG [environmental, social and governance] integration across its portfolio and with its investment managers.”

UVIMCO doesn’t invest in individual securities. It puts its money in the hands of money managers… who invest in individual securities. Rather than picking stocks, UVIMCO picks money managers. As part of that process, UVIMCO evaluates a prospective manager’s ability to incorporate ESG priorities into its investment practices. Continue reading

Letters: Alum Divests UVa

Mark M. Luellen
VP for Advancement
University of Virginia
Office of Advancement

Dear Mr. Luellen,

Years ago, we formalized an estate plan which included UVA as the recipient of a significant portion of our assets, held in a revocable family trust. I was proud of my degree from UVA and loved the atmosphere where honor, true history, scholarship, world class research and excellent teaching were the priorities.

In recent months I have been concerned that these priorities were overtaken by an extreme emphasis on diversity and equity and a lesser regard for traditional values. Lately UVA’s abundant support for the murderous and uncivilized Hamas organization and the timid recognition of the slaughter of innocent Israelis has deeply saddened me. Continue reading

Another Race Institute at UVa

Kimberly J. Robinson, UVa Professor of Law. Official Photo

by James C. Sherlock

Fund it and they will come.

The Daily Progress reports that thanks to a $4.9 million gift from an anonymous philanthropist, a new “Institute” has been launched at UVa’s School of Law.

The new organization, the Education Rights Institute, plans to

“find ways to improve K-12 education and help educators address the obstacles that face disadvantaged students.”

Staff have been hired and the institute’s first projects are already in development. There will be a star-studded roll out on October 16th.


Hold that thought while you read about the Institute’s leadership, goals and intentions. Continue reading

The Stunning Wealth of UVa’s Nonprofits

by James C. Sherlock

As an alumnus of the University of Virginia, I like to check in occasionally to see how my alma mater is doing financially.

Not the actual University, but the wealthy and proliferating nonprofits set up for its off-the-books support. When I say wealthy, I mean $13,568,527,649 wealthy.

OK, rich.

All of them tax exempt. Continue reading

With a $14.5 Billion Endowment, Are UVa Leaders Accountable to Anyone But Themselves?

This graph shows how UVIMCO divvies up its $14.5 billion endowment from an investment perspective.

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia endowment racked up a breathtaking 49% investment return in the year ending June 30, 2021, bringing the total value of the university’s investments to $14.5 billion, reports the University of Virginia Investment Management Company (UVIMCO) in its 2020-21 annual report.

I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

On the one hand, powerful investment returns supports initiatives such as the recently announced allocation of $50 million dollars for merit-based scholarships and aid to needy undergraduate students. On the other hand, such spectacular financial performance — almost $5 billion in a single year — makes the university leadership less accountable to tuition-paying students and parents, to the Commonwealth of Virginia which funds millions in state support, and to alumni whose individual donations are paltry by comparison.

Come to think of it, I’m even agnostic on whether the $50 million in new scholarship money is a good thing or not. Continue reading

A Glimpse into UVa’s Fund-Raising Juggernaut

Bright shiny object: the proposed $48 million Data Science building.

by James A. Bacon

Alumni unhappy about recent developments at the niversity of Virginia claim to have withdrawn $150 million or more in pledged financial support for the institution. Money talks in academia as elsewhere. President Jim Ryan and Rector James Murray have engaged disgruntled grads in spoken and written communications and have given them the courtesy of thoughtful (albeit inadequate) responses.

But there is little indication that anything will change. In last week’s Board of Visitors meeting, not one of the issues raised by the insurgent alumni was discussed — not the “F— UVA” sign on the Lawn, not the purging of names from buildings and grounds of once-prominent figures now deemed racist, not the increasing intolerance of non-leftist viewpoints that is strangling intellectual diversity and leaving a majority of students reluctant to speak their opinions openly.

Continue reading