UPDATE 1-Jane Mendillo to step down as CEO Harvard's investment arm

Tue Jun 10, 2014 5:41pm EDT

(Adds details of Mendillo's tenure, details on performance)

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

BOSTON, June 10 (Reuters) - Harvard University's endowment chief, Jane Mendillo, who guided the school's $32.7 billion endowment through the financial crisis and following economic recovery, will leave at the end of 2014, the university said on Tuesday.

Mendillo, 55, took the reins at the wealthiest university's investment arm six years ago, the first woman in one of the most closely watched jobs in the investment management industry.

Within weeks, financial markets plunged.

During her first year on the job, when the university's endowment lost 27.3 percent, or $10 billion, Mendillo reshuffled the portfolio dramatically by selling off riskier assets.

In the last five years, the endowment delivered an average annual return of between 11 percent and 12 percent, the school said, giving a glimpse of performance for the period that ends on June 30, 2014.

The university said it has already begun seeking a replacement for Mendillo, whose predecessors Mohamed El-Erian and Jack Meyer also boasted strong track records.

"Jane has been an excellent leader for HMC and a true partner for the University. She has repositioned the endowment and re-established a world-class investment platform to support Harvard and all of its activities for many years to come," Harvard University President Drew Faust said in a statement.

Mendillo strengthened rise management and operations and focused more on sustainability in Harvard's investment process, Faust said.

Unlike many universities, Harvard invests a bulk of its money in house and employs hedge fund managers, many of whom once worked for the university, to manage portions. (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by David Gregorio)

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