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William & Mary’s endowment reaches historic levels at $1.3B

William & Mary experienced the largest growth in its endowment in fiscal year 2021 (FY21), increasing $332 million to a total value of nearly $1.3 billion. This represents the biggest jump ever in the university’s consolidated endowment.

“When we talk about our endowment, we are really talking about the growth over time in the resources that benefit William & Mary and our people, including our students, faculty, coaches and staff,” said Vice President for University Advancement Matthew T. Lambert ’99. “The importance of W&M’s endowment, and strong endowment growth through increased philanthropy and smart investing, cannot be understated—both for today and for future generations of W&M people.”  

William & Mary’s endowment is made up of many individual investment funds, and acts as an annuity, paying out an income to the university over many generations. The university relies on the endowment as a steady income stream to supplement revenue provided by the state and federal governments and income from tuition. Additionally, gifts to the endowment are donor-designated, meaning that contributions go to areas the donors choose. As the second-oldest institution of higher education in the U.S., Lambert added, William & Mary’s endowment looks to the next 300 years, not just the next 30.

The massive increase was due, in part, to the performance of the 1693 Partners Fund — the largest depository of W&M’s invested endowment — as well as the other component parts of the consolidated W&M endowment. The William & Mary Foundation, Marshall-Wythe School of Law Foundation, William & Mary Business School Foundation and Murray 1693 Scholars Foundation are all members of the 1693 Partners Fund.

“It was an extraordinary year for the 1693 Partners Fund with a one-year return of 36.8%,” said Chief Investment Officer of the 1693 Management Company Brian Hiestand. “While we are delighted with the results of the fund in fiscal year 2021, we measure success by our ability to generate strong investment results over the long term with a goal of helping to educate today’s scholars and future scholars at our world class university.”

The growth of the consolidated endowment advances a core goal of William & Mary’s strategic plan — Vision 2026 — creating long-term financial sustainability and an operational model that matches the high caliber of W&M academics.  

“As we continue to propel William & Mary forward with Vision 2026,” said Chief Operating Officer Amy Sebring, “We are focused not only on creating long-term financial sustainability but also advancing W&M’s distinctive excellence, raising our national and global profile, and sustaining positive gains from our effective pandemic response. Continued growth of the endowment and the performance of the 1693 Partners Fund will be vital to achieving these goals.”

In June 2019, W&M’s endowment had a value of approximately $1 billion; at the same point in 2020, the endowment was valued at roughly $967.7 million. Despite the slight year-to-year decrease and projections of a further budget shortfall of up to $100 million due to the pandemic, the university rallied support from donors across the W&M community in the past year.

In 2020, William & Mary completed its For the Bold campaign, which greatly strengthened the endowment, adding more than $400 million in cash and pledges. In FY21, William & Mary raised more than $61 million in endowment and expendable funds and launched the All In campaign to build stability and long-term success for W&M Athletics.

“We began FY21, which began on July 1, 2020, facing a fiscal year unlike any we had ever seen before,” said Sebring. “We initiated scenario planning early in the summer, and because of our implementation strategies, we have reached this milestone today. I can tell you as I look to FY22, the university finished the last fiscal year in a stronger financial position than when it entered during the pandemic. I am very optimistic about what lies ahead.”

Lambert emphasized, “The growth in our endowment is a monumental achievement for W&M. It is a combination of landmark philanthropy and excellent management of our resources over decades. Thanks to our record-level fundraising, strategic investment in necessary pandemic-related resources and programming, and generous unrestricted giving to the Fund for William & Mary, the university was able to maintain its mission during the pandemic while also exceeding expectations.”

The 1693 Partners Fund was previously known as the William & Mary Investment Trust (WAMIT). WAMIT was created in 2004 to allow most of the university’s endowed assets to be administered under one structure — thereby reducing administrative burden and increasing efficiency.