The Davidson endowment funds opportunities for current and future generations.
Davidson’s endowment fuels our competitive scholarship programs and enables us to recruit the most talented students to campus, regardless of their ability to pay. As of December 31, 2022, the Davidson College endowment is $1.3 billion.
The Davidson Endowment
The endowment is a diversified investment portfolio resulting from historic gifts, new gifts made by donors and capital appreciation on those gifts over time. The endowment provides a reliable and perpetual source of income to the college’s operating budget. The long-term goal is to support intergenerational equity, meaning it needs to benefit current and future generations of students and faculty. 86% of the funds are donor restricted, including many specific scholarships and endowed faculty positions, while the remaining 14% mostly supports all scholarships.
The endowment makes it possible for:
- Countless students, regardless of their economic background, to afford and attend Davidson and go on to live lives of leadership and service in industries and countries around the world
- Davidson's 21 NCAA Division I varsity sports teams to receive support
- Three-quarters of the student body to embark on an overseas experience across the globe
- Faculty and students to collaborate on research, such as on how the brain reorganizes itself after injury or how to build a better flu vaccine
- Students to develop disciplined and creative minds in class sizes with an average 10:1 student to faculty ratio
The endowment is one of four major sources of income for the college. A percentage of the endowment's earnings is withdrawn annually to support scholarships, endowed faculty and related operations and initiatives. The “spending draw” is equivalent to five percent of the five-year rolling average of prior endowment market values in order to reduce budget volatility.
How It's Invested
As an institution, Davidson has more options than individual investors. The college invests across a broad spectrum of asset classes (e.g., equity, credit, and real assets). The investment team spends much of their time evaluating and monitoring top-tier investment managers across a wide variety of public and private strategies. The result is a diversified portfolio with better return potential and a lower risk profile than a traditional mix of stocks and bonds.
Performance & Risk
Davidson strives to achieve its long-term investment objective without incurring outsized risk. Compared to other endowments, Davidson’s returns have consistently been much better (top decile) with less risk. Due to strong investment performance and successful fundraising for Davidson’s endowment, the value has grown at a higher rate than many other colleges and universities.
Who Manages It
A dedicated in-house professional investment staff oversees the endowment. The team consists of a chief investment officer, an investment director and a director of operations all of whom have deep experience. The Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees, a small group of volunteer advisers and the college’s vice president for finance & administration provide additional oversight and stewardship, guided by a set of formal investment policies.
Why Give to the Endowment
With an endowment gift, you truly keep giving. Endowment gifts extend your philanthropic partnership with Davidson to sustain your annual support in perpetuity. They can also provide a lasting tribute that honors family members and friends.
Despite the success of the endowment to date, Davidson still needs to increase the size of its endowment to stay competitive, provide new opportunities and strengthen its position as a leader in higher education. A larger endowment would also reduce the college’s dependence on current-use gifts and tuition, providing more financial stability each year.