Amherst Hires CIO, Moves Fund to Boston After Other Colleges

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(Bloomberg) -- Amherst is joining the stampede of college endowments that have moved their offices to financial centers while bringing on a new chief investment officer.

Letitia Johnson, a managing director at the investment firm Cambridge Associates, will run the $2.4 billion endowment starting Sept. 9, the college said in a statement Thursday. She and the fund’s six-person investment staff will work in a new office in Boston, about two hours away from their current location in Amherst.

Amherst Hires CIO, Moves Fund to Boston After Other Colleges

“For us, it was driven by CIO desire, where the talent wants to be,” said Simon Krinsky, chair of Amherst’s investment committee and a managing partner at San Francisco-based Hall Capital Partners.

Schools have been relocating their endowment offices to New York, Connecticut and Boston where they can meet investment managers and hire experienced staff. Cornell and Lehigh shifted to New York City and Williams and Dartmouth moved to Boston. Mount Holyoke is hiring its first CIO and plans to set up its fund in either Boston or New York.

Amherst Hires CIO, Moves Fund to Boston After Other Colleges

Johnson, 38, has been at Boston-based Cambridge for her entire career, most recently as leader of the endowment and foundation team, managing more than $7 billion. The Amherst fund she will run also includes the endowment of the Folger Shakespeare Library, the world’s largest Shakespeare collection. The endowment assets total $2.9 billion.

Amherst’s endowment returned 10% for the year ended June 2018, just above the average for endowments with more than $1 billion, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

About 53% of the Amherst’s budget is expected to come from the endowment, one of the highest rates in higher education. Amherst is one of about 30 schools expected to pay a new tax on endowment returns.

Johnson replaces Mauricia Geissler, the college’s first CIO, who is retiring after 16 years. Amherst also plans to add an analyst to its investment staff.

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