David F. Swensen, chief investment officer at Yale University, died Wednesday evening, Yale officials said Thursday in a statement.
The cause was cancer, the statement said. He was 67.
Mr. Swensen was known for developing the “Yale model” of investing, the standard for many universities and endowments.
He received his doctorate in economics at Yale, and following stints at Salomon Brothers and Lehman Brothers, he joined Yale’s investments office in 1985. Since then, he oversaw the growth of Yale’s endowment to $31.2 billion as of June 30. One of the primary innovators in a decades-long evolution of asset owners’ willingness to embrace investing in alternatives, Mr. Swensen’s argument that long-term investors should diversify into private, illiquid securities has had ripple effects that have extended well beyond the university endowment community.
Yale President Peter Salovey, in a message posted on the New Haven, Conn.-based university’s website, called Mr. Swenson an exceptional colleague, dear friend and beloved mentor to many in the Yale community.
“David’s ideas reverberated beyond Yale as he revolutionized the landscape of institutional investing. His approach, which has become known as the ‘Yale model,’ is now the standard for many university and foundation endowments,” Mr. Salovey said. “A natural teacher, he prepared a generation of institutional investors who have gone on to lead investment offices at other colleges and universities, further extending the scope of David’s influence.”
In addition to his time as CIO, Mr. Swensen was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and advised President Barack Obama as a member of his Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Among the organizations for which Mr. Swenson has served as an adviser or trustee are the Brookings Institution, Cambridge University, the New York Stock Exchange, the Investment Fund for Foundations, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, and the commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Mr. Swensen wrote two books: “Pioneering Portfolio Management: An Unconventional Approach to Institutional Investment” and “Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment.”
Yale University spokeswoman Karen Peart could not immediately provide further information.