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Interview with David Swensen

David Swensen

Chief Investment Officer
Yale University


David Swensen, Yale’s Chief Investment Officer, oversees $20.0 billion in Endowment assets and several hundreds of millions of dollars of other investment funds. Under his stewardship during the past 27 years the Yale Endowment generated returns of 13.9 percent per annum, a record unequalled among institutional investors. Mr. Swensen leads a staff of 27, located near the University’s campus in downtown New Haven.

Prior to joining Yale in 1985, Mr. Swensen spent six years on Wall Street – three years at Lehman Brothers and three years at Salomon Brothers – where his work focused on developing new financial technologies. At Salomon Brothers, he structured the first swap, a currency transaction involving IBM and the World Bank. Mr. Swensen authored Pioneering Portfolio Management: An Unconventional Approach to Institutional Investment and Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment, both published by The Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. His books have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, French, Spanish and Italian.

Mr. Swensen has won numerous awards, including: in 2012, the Yale Medal for outstanding individual service to the University; in 2008, a fellowship in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences; in 2007, the Mory’s Cup for conspicuous service to Yale; in 2007, the Hopkins Medal for commitment, devotion and loyalty to Hopkins School; and in 2004, the Inaugural Institutional Investor Award for Excellence in Investment Management. At Yale, where he teaches students in Yale College and at the School of Management, he is a fellow of Berkeley College, an incorporator of the Elizabethan Club, and a fellow of the International Center for Finance.

Mr. Swensen advised the President of the United States as a member of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. He served as trustee or advisor to the Brookings Institution, Cambridge University, the Carnegie Corporation, the Carnegie Institution of Washington, the Hopkins School, TIAA, the New York Stock Exchange, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Courtauld Institute of Art, the Yale New Haven Hospital, the Investment Fund for Foundations, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and the States of Connecticut and Massachusetts.