Many American private universities have huge endowments, which are something like a trust fund, or more colloquially a “nest egg,” sometimes worth billions of dollars that the universities use for whatever purposes they see fit. The size of the endowment (stop snickering now) is in no small way related to the reputation of the university. For example, Harvard University’s is worth a whopping $22.6 billion (second only to the Gates foundation in net worth among non-profits). Of course, you don’t get this kind of money by letting it sit in the bank — you use all the investment tools and expertise at your disposal to make more money.
Stanford University is doing that right here in Shanghai with a new property investment:
A fund managed by Stanford University has purchased a 24.6 pct stake in a 1.5 bln yuan luxury villa development in Shanghai, its first direct property investment in the city, the South China Morning Post reported.
This amounts to a little more than $46 million USD — chump change, we know — but we guess that’s also part of the reason why the university’s president is coming to Shanghai later this month. Of course, Stanford is neither the first nor the last university to invest money in China. Shanghaiist didn’t delve too far into what schools have invested what in China, but we did discover that part of Harvard’s endowment once went to PetroChina, which is heavily invested in the oil industry out in Sudan (where China gets a lot of oil). Sudan has been plagued by a civil war, though there is a growing consensus that what is happening is a genocide, waged by the Sudanese government against its own people, which lead to the massive humanitarian crisis in Darfur. However, after people became aware of the role that oil money and PetroChina played in propping up the regime, Harvard divested, a responsible thing to do, we think.
We’re okay with luxury villas, though.
Photo from monkeyking’s Flickr page.