Investment Management

The UO Foundation is committed to careful stewardship of private gifts in support of the University of Oregon. The Investment Committee and UO Foundation staff are in frequent communication to discuss governance, investment policies and procedures, portfolio diversification and manager evaluation.

The UO Foundation manages $873 million of investable assets, including gifts made to endowed funds, expendable funds and deferred gifts.

  • Gifts to expendable funds are immediately available for spending at the request of the UO; therefore, the investment approach emphasizes preservation of capital— highest possible return with low risk.
  • Deferred gifts are managed individually, rather than pooled, because each is unique in terms of payout rate and investment horizon. This strategy allows a variety of asset allocation options to be utilized to best satisfy donor needs.

Endowed funds

We are proud to share our philosophy and approach to investment management in our Investment Guide.

Asset Allocation 

Gifts to endowed funds are placed in the Willamette Investment Pool (WIP), a well diversified all-weather portfolio that is a combination of long-term core holdings and ever-changing, opportunistic (2-5 year) holdings. Since the goal is to maximize returns with a prudent level of risk, the WIP has a strong equity-like bias in asset allocation. As of June 30, 2016, the endowment reached a high market value of $753 million.

  • Growth: Capital appreciation through exposure to publicly traded and privately held global equities.
  • Risk Reduction: Equity market diversification, income and capital appreciation through exposure to commodity, fixed-income, and complex hedging strategies. 
  • Inflation Protection: Equity-market diversification and long-term capital appreciation through exposure to commercial real estate, energy infrastructure, commodities, and natural resources such as timber, renewable energy and permanent crops.


Manager Selection

The UO Foundation looks to place investments with highly successful, long-tenured, independently owned management firms; history has proven the more aligned the interests of investors and managers, the better the results. Ongoing manager due diligence is required to make sure nothing goes wrong. The Foundation is in routine communication with its managers, asking about all facets of their business: people, processes, and performance.

Endowment Investment Performance
(Willamette Investment Pool)

The endowment's performance is designed to be consistent, stable, and less dependent on any one type of investment or any one particular economic environment. Greater focus is placed on generating consistent returns measured over longer periods of time. The ultimate objective is to first protect, then perform, and finally, as a result, provide to the university.

Equity/Fixed Income Benchmark: 60% MSCI All Country World Equity Index, 40% Barclay's Aggregate
Policy Benchmark (Inception 2012): 20% MSCI All Country World Equity Index, 20% DJCS Long/Short Equity Hedge, 5% 91-Day T-Bill, 5% BofA Merrill Lynch 1-3 Year US Corporate Index, 15% HFR Fund of Funds, 7.5% NCREIF Townsend Blended, 7.5% Mercer Illiquid Natural Resources, 20% Burgiss Global PE Index

Spending Policy

The amount of university support provided by endowed funds each year is determined according to the Board approved spending policy, currently ~4%. The Foundation spending policy is at the heart of our prudent management of private gifts. It strikes a balance between the conflicting goals of providing substantial support for current operations and preserving long-term purchasing power.


Meet the Investment Team

Jay Namyet, Chief Investment Officer: With more than 30 years of prior experience, Jay was previously employed in investment management roles at Smith Barney, Refco and Paine Webber Mitchell Hutchins, where he began his career in 1982. He earned his MBA from New York University and a BA in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. Jay also serves as an investment committee member for CASE and the Ford Family Foundation of Oregon. He joined the UO Foundation in 2000.

Laura Chen, Senior Analyst, Investment Operations: Laura joined the Foundation in 2002. She is a 1999 graduate of the UO School of Journalism and Communication. Prior to joining the UO Foundation, she was a media planner at Publicis & Hal Riney.

Jake Eld, CFA, Senior Investment Analyst:
Jake has a BBA in Finance from Idaho State University. His professional background includes nearly a decade of commercial lending, underwriting, and portfolio management. He joined the UO Foundation in 2015.

Kevin Sennewald, Investment Analyst:
Kevin is a 2014 graduate of the University of Oregon with a BS in Business Administration (Finance). He joined the UO Foundation in 2014.