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Endowment Management > Philosophy

A Commitment to Today’s Generation – and to Those Who Follow

Case Western Reserve’s endowment is the foundation of the university’s commitment to its mission of research and education today and for centuries to come. Composed of more than 2,700 individual funds, the endowment reflects generations of generous support from alumni and other supporters designed to increase knowledge and deepen understanding.

The university’s leaders feel a profound sense of responsibility to every donor who helped secure the university’s future over time. Not only must we ensure those resources are spent in accordance with their wishes, but we also seek to preserve and ideally expand the size of those gifts over time. To that end, the university’s investment and spending policies seek to strike an equitable balance between the institution’s long-term needs and those of current constituents. As part of those efforts, the institution pursues an asset-allocation policy that simultaneously strives for reasonable growth and moderate risk, minimal volatility and necessary liquidity.

What is the "Combined Endowment"?

The university’s “combined endowment” includes two categories of assets: those resources that the university directly invests, as well as funds held by others. In the latter instance, organizations such as foundations or private entities decide and execute investment strategies; in the former, the university’s Office of Investments follows guidelines from the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees. The university’s annual endowment report provides both overall results and those divided by category.

Each year the endowment’s total value changes based on a mix of factors, among them:

Differences between Overall and Individual Changes

The proportional amount of these overall shifts may be reflected in individual accounts, but often varies from the total percentage amounts. These differences can arise because funds within individual accounts are spent at different rates (and, in the case of, say, a vacant professorship, not at all in a particular year), which in turn impacts the amount of gain or loss over a 12-month period.

The university is committed to provide as much information and context as possible to ensure donors understand how their funds are used and managed; those with questions can contact the Office of Donor Relations at 216.368.5468 or In many instances, the university’s chief financial officer will review the account and respond directly to queries or concerns.