Colleges secretive about endowment investments

Collin Brinkley

Despite the calls for transparency, record requests made by The Associated Press to dozens of the nation’s wealthiest colleges show a continued push to keep investments secret.

Out of 50 public and private universities asked to disclose their investments, 39 schools with combined endowments of $255 billion refused to provide a single record. Four never responded to the requests sent in September. None of the private universities, which are not subject to open-records laws, released any information.

Most public universities, which operate with taxpayer money, kept their investments secret. The universities that did provide records in most cases revealed only a small fraction of their portfolios.

Colleges drew on a variety of reasons to withhold records. The University of Virginia and four other public universities said they house their endowments in outside foundations that are not subject to open-records laws. Michigan State University, also public, cited a state law that explicitly keeps college investments confidential. Private Vanderbilt University said it made agreements with financial managers not to share investment details.