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Case study

New book chronicles Michigan endowment evolution

You don't have to be a die-hard Wolverine to appreciate the 200-year history of endowment investing by the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

"The Evolution of Investing at the University of Michigan 1817-2016" just hit the virtual shelves of Amazon.com and provides readers with a case study of the changes in endowment investing in America.

The book originated from a study by UM's internal investment office, which looked at the history of endowment governance by the university's board of regents.

The timeline began in 1817 when the university's precursor, Catholepistemiad of Michigan, was founded and endowed with federal land grants in what was then a U.S. frontier territory. The University of Michigan was established in 1837, the same year Michigan became a state.

When the first consolidated endowment pool was established in 1928, it totaled $2.7 million and included cash, certificates of deposit, bonds, contracts, mortgages, student loans, real estate, stocks and tuition notes.

Over the years, the role of university regents morphed from direct approval of bond and stock investments (the latter from a preapproved list) to oversight of a sophisticated investment office running a diversified, $11 billion multimanager/multiasset class portfolio.

The authors — Rafael E. Castilla, director of investments and structuring, and William P. Hodgeson, investment associate — from UM's investment office dove deep into the archives to chronicle the quirky journey of an innovative endowment to 21st-century investment practices.