Columbia University said on Thursday that its endowment posted an 11.5 percent investment return during the 2013 fiscal year, making it the latest Ivy League school to report double-digit gains as stock markets rallied.
Columbia, which counts President Barack Obama, singer Art Garfunkel and hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb among its alumni, said its endowment stood at $8.2 billion on June 30, the end of its fiscal year.
The gain marks a dramatic improvement from fiscal 2012, when Columbia, located in Upper Manhattan, reported an investment increase of 2.3 percent. Most of the nation's top colleges and universities reported weak returns last year.
But with stock markets rallying as the global economy picked up some speed, many Ivy League schools reported double-digit returns this year. Both public and private markets contributed to gains, officials at several schools said.
The University of Pennsylvania reported the strongest returns so far, with a return of 14.4 percent on its endowment, which grew to $7.7 billion from $6.8 billion a year earlier.
Yale, whose endowment has nearly doubled in size in the last decade to $20.8 billion, reported a 12.5 percent investment return. Harvard, the world's richest university with a $32.7 billion endowment, earned an 11.3 percent return.
As a group, foundations and endowments posted a one-year median return of 11.28 percent for the 12 months ended June 30, Wilshire Associates said in a report. During the same time the Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 18 percent.
Many of these universities rely on top hedge-fund managers to help deliver returns, and their investment gains and choices are closely watched by the investment community for clues about trends.
(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston; Editing by Leslie Adler)