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Joseph Dowling named chief investment officer

Dowling will focus on protecting and increasing the University’s endowment amidst the economy’s low interest rates

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, May 2, 2013

The University named Joseph Dowling III, founder of the investment firm Narragansett Asset Management, as vice president and chief investment officer in a press release Thursday.

Dowling will succeed interim CIO Kenneth Shimberg, who has served since Cynthia Frost left the position in December. Frost began her tenure in July 2000 and was the University’s first-ever CIO, The Herald previously reported.

Dowling will begin his new post in June, according to the press release.

“We are thrilled to have Joe,” said Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Beppie Huidekoper. “He was our top choice.”

The University formed a subcommittee of the Corporation’s Investment Committee to conduct the search for a new CIO, Huidekoper said. The subcommittee then developed a detailed job description for the position and hired a headhunting firm to aid in the search, she said.

Dowling “brought to the table excellent management and investment experience,” Huidekoper said, adding that President Christina Paxson interviewed Dowling and made the final selection.

In addition to his strong investment qualifications and detailed plans, Dowling expressed the most enthusiasm of any of the candidates about joining the Brown community, Huidekoper said.

“I am honored to get the position,” Dowling said, adding that he plans to work with Chancellor Thomas Tisch ’76, Paxson, investment committee members and students to grow Brown’s $2.5 billion endowment. During Frost’s 12-year tenure, the endowment nearly doubled from a starting point of under $1.4 billion in 2000, The Herald previously reported.

“I want to make sure that this asset is invested prudently,” Dowling said, referring to the endowment.

Dowling highlighted low interest rates as a continuing challenge for growing the University’s endowment, adding that he will work to ensure the University makes good returns on its investments despite “the current economic landscape.” The endowment posted 6.7 percent in annual returns on average under Frost’s stewardship, but growth has slowed since the financial crisis, with only a 1 percent return in fiscal year 2012.The endowment will provide about $110 million of the University’s $902 million operating budget during the upcoming fiscal year 2014, according to the press release.

Dowling said students’ needs are a key factor he will consider as CIO. “I work for everyone,” he said.

Dowling grew up in Providence near campus and attended the Moses Brown School until he was a junior, he said. His father, Joseph Dowling, Jr., ’47, is a University trustee emeritus and was a faculty member and administrator for the University’s athletics program, he added.

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