EndowmentUniversity of Notre DameSouth Bend, Indiana
Most people know Notre Dame for a few things: the Fighting Irish, world-class academics,
and—if you're in the institutional investing world—the school's endowment. It's grown over
the years—from around $425 million in 1988 to nearly $7.5 billion today.
At the helm for that entire time has been CIO Scott Malpass, and he has more good things to
say about the school and his teammates than himself. When asked about this growth, he
points first to "stellar fundraising"—and only then does he mention the strong stock markets of
the late 1980s and 1990s. And while the macro environment following the financial crisis has
obviously not been easy, Notre Dame has recovered to new highs while other endowment
pools have not.
Malpass credits one asset class in particular for allowing the endowment to emerge well
positioned: emerging markets, in which Notre Dame uses active managers for its roughly
20% allocation to the sector. Returns from emerging markets, along with private equity, have
been especially instrumental in allowing thousands of Notre Dame students earn a college
degree. Want proof? While the university's composite for all its emerging market managers
for the fiscal year was down 1%, the index was down 17%. "The emerging market sector is
one area I find fascinating, and our investment office probably travels to these places more
than others—we really make an effort to understand these markets," Malpass asserts, noting
that during his CIO tenure, he's been to China alone between 40 and 50 times. "It's a signal
that we really take ownership of our work in these places compared to most investors that
haven't built out the sophistication to do research in emerging markets."
Emerging market managers: Keep an eye out for Notre Dame, because they may just want
your skill. Malpass says that he foresees the fund's allocation to emerging markets going
even higher. "But that's based on finding the right investment partners. We're still looking to
add emerging market partners over time," he says. While still uncertain, the turnover of
around 70% of China's leadership next year may fuel more opportunity in the region, as
"scale and inefficiencies are compelling over the long term," Malpass says.
Another initiative that this university's endowment has been pursuing is micro venture
capital—investing with venture capital firms to help fund start-up businesses, which now
require a fraction of the capital needed decades ago, Malpass says. "The cost of start-ups
has really come down, largely due to low-cost hardware, open-source software, and search
engine marketing...Entrepreneurs can bootstrap their companies much further with a fraction
of the capital." There's a fair amount of that fighting spirit in the air in South Bend, it seems.
It's rare to have a university with stellar academics, a strong sports team, and an endowment
that's weathered the economic storm largely above the rest. While Notre Dame's students
show much-deserved pride for their football team, they certainly have reason to be proud of
their endowment as well. —PVSEE DATA