Union gains wealth while Skidmore slides in off year for college endowments

Union College in Schenectady is shown in September 2017.
Union College in Schenectady is shown in September 2017.

Categories: News

Skidmore College shed a small portion of its endowment wealth last year, while Union College grew its endowment around 3 percent in what was a weaker than normal year for college endowments across the country.

Union College had an endowment worth around $470 million as of June 30, according to recently published financial statements. That was up from $456.5 million in June 2018, an increase of 3 percent.

Skidmore did see some investment gains in its endowment holdings but after annual spending that comes out of the endowment, Skidmore’s endowment was worth slightly less as of May 31 than it was the same time a year prior.

Skidmore’s endowment was worth nearly $374 million as of May 31, down from just over $379 million the previous year, a decline of about 1.5 percent, according to Skidmore’s financial statements.

A Skidmore spokesperson pointed out that the change in the college’s endowment worth was a result of money appropriated to be spent from the endowment.

Endowment growth slowed during the 2017-2018 budget year as well, but both colleges saw stronger gains last year than they did this year: Union’s endowment grew by nearly 7 percent between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018; Skidmore’s endowment grew by 4.5 percent during roughly the same time period.

The slow year appeared to reflect national trends: the median return of nearly 150 college and universities was just less than 5 percent, down from the prior year, according to an analysis by Boston-based investment firm Cambridge Associates. The country’s wealthiest colleges with endowments worth at least $1 billion, which have a significant size advantage when seeking returns in the market, had a median return of nearly 6 percent.

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