Archive for Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lawmaker wants endowments to invest funds

January 26, 2008


As the Kansas Legislature looks for ways to bulk up funding to state universities, a legislator from Lansing is touting an idea: Get help from the endowments.

But rather than force them to spend more, State Rep. Kenny Wilk would like to let the endowment associations at the six state universities manage the cash that flows from the state to the colleges. Right now, that money is invested by the state with a return of about 5 percent.

The endowments, on the other hand, earned an average return of about 9 percent in the past year. Kansas University Endowment Association's return last year was even better.

"We've been working with several interested parties," said Wilk, R-Lansing. "We did the tax credit for deferred maintenance last year and through that process, and others, ideas have come up. I think this is an idea whose time has come."

Wilk said that, on any given day, the six universities have about $300 million in the state's pooled money investment fund.

"It's tuition money, it's federal money, it's fee money. It's the dollars those universities collect on a daily basis," Wilk said. "They don't just sit on it, they move it to the pooled money fund."

But Wilk said the return would be better if the endowments were allowed to manage the money. Each percentage point - gain or loss - would equal about $3 million.

But Dale Seuferling, president of KU Endowment Association, said endowments and foundations at state universities would have to examine the proposal carefully before determining how well they could do with the money.

"(Friday) is the first we've heard of the proposal. We're still in the learning stage," he said. "We would look forward to learning the specifics of the plan."

Seuferling cautioned, however, that most of the money the endowment manages is placed in long-term investments. Generally, the longer the money is locked in, the higher the return.

Assuming the funds that Wilk is talking about need to be accessible more quickly, they'd have to be invested in shorter-term funds - probably at a lower rate of return.

"We're focused on the long-term, we're not a short-term investor," Seuferling said. "This would present a question of how liquid the university needs to keep the money."

Despite that, Seuferling said KU Endowment would look at the legislation and do what it can to assist the university.

Wilk said since floating the idea in an appropriations committee meeting Thursday, he's gathered a lot of support for fully discussing the idea.

"We're going to go forward with it and draft the legislation," he said.


Richard Heckler 10 years, 4 months ago

Washington D.C. is wanting some endowment money spent to help students pay their way through college.

Godot 10 years, 4 months ago

Brings to mind the KPERS debacle of the 80's.

WilburM 10 years, 4 months ago

In reality, the Endowment and the University Administration often do not see eye to eye onmany issues, not the least of which is how much money to spend, and on what. Really bad idea.

bondmen 10 years, 4 months ago

Investing long term for funds needed short term recently got numerous Florida communities in big trouble with, I believe, school money; there are many other examples of how this idea has failed historically at critical market junctures.

Certainly looking in the rear view mirror is 20 20 vision and for particular time periods and market conditions such a plan could work. But there will always be a day when all the players want to run for the door at the same time, and then they will learn the exit is closed at the price and value they expected to receive! Finger pointing and lamentations will begin anew and restrictions on such activity will once again be adopted. Must this cycle always repeat itself, repeat itself?

Godot 10 years, 3 months ago

Taking government funds meant for operation expenses and investing them in the market is fools play, or worse.

The above-market gains KU endowment enjoyed in the past were, in part, a result of investing in hedge funds.

Read this.

Godot 10 years, 3 months ago

And who is the father of the Hedge Funds? Let us all recite, together, "George Soros,"

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