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University News

U. investment manager to step down

After 12 years under Frost, the University is seeking a new chief investment officer

By
University News Editor
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The University is currently looking to fill the position of chief investment officer, after Cynthia Frost, who previously held the position, retired at the end of 2012.

Frost was the first and only person to have held the position of University CIO, serving since the position was created in July 2000. As CIO, Frost directed the University’s long-term investments, managed the assets of its portfolios and led the Investment Office. University administrators confirmed her plan to step down Dec. 12.

Frost left the University for personal reasons, she told The Herald in December. Specifically, she said, she wanted to have more time to help her mother after her father’s death last year. The moment was ripe to step down, she added, citing the strength of the team she leaves behind.

“All the planets aligned,” she said. “I felt comfortable that I could move on and do what I needed to do personally, and Brown would be in good shape.”

An email about Frost’s resignation was sent out to staff in October, said Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations.

Frost helped steer the University’s $2.5 billion endowment through the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent national recession, a downturn she said was one of the greatest obstacles she faced.

During Frost’s 12 years at Brown, the endowment grew from under $1.4 billion to over $2.5 billion, she said. The endowment has posted average returns of 6.7 percent annually since the start of her tenure, according to business news outlet FundFire.

The Corporation’s Committee on Investment has created a small subcommittee to oversee the selection of the new CIO, Quinn said. Brown will not be the only university looking to fill an investment manager position, FundFire reported — Penn, the University of Illinois system and the Princeton Theological Seminary also have vacancies.

The University is “early in the process” of choosing Frost’s replacement, Quinn wrote in an email to The Herald.

The University can expect to face “new and interesting challenges” to its financial standing in the years ahead, given present volatility in Europe and expected slower growth in China, Frost said. But she added that she has faith in both the United States’ strength and the University’s abilities to grow the endowment.

Frost said whether the University’s upcoming capital campaign will focus on an endowment boost has yet to be determined and will be a decision made by President Christina Paxson and other administrators.

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  1. How much was she paid, you use in topic but don’t define, kinda of frustrating

  2. Neal Hightower says:

    It is admirable that Cynthia Frost’s return on investments is conservative in a national environment that is equivalent to financial rape, economic usury, especially as a female in a traditional female financial clone national ecology. She is wise to step down, and hopefully allow the univeristy to reconsider its current expansion strategy as unwise, and ungrounded at a time when it needs to focus on tuition reduction, and graduate professional placement as major institutional priorities.

  3. From the BDH in 2007: “The endowment has grown to a size that has allowed the University to get pretty comfortable with riskier investments,” Frost said.

    Then in 2009 the endowment lost 27% of its value.

  4. remain_in_light says:

    Frost was a terrible Chief Investment Officer who ranked among the very worst in the entire US with stunning losses in the financial crisis (google her), while being the highest paid person at Brown ($1.1+ per year). She should have been fired years ago, and one can only fault the Corporation and Ruth Simmons for not making basic hard-nosed business decisions. As the article said, Frost is a woman. So what? I’d rather have the $750 million she lost which could have paid about 23,000 students the average financial aid grant of $33,000. That’s about 8 years of financial aid at that time!! (As an aside, BDH writers need to learn to ask simple questions, like “compared to what?”, which will prevent silly fluff pieces like this one.)

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