The DeGioia administration’s efforts to improve the university’s financial forecast hit an unexpected high point last week when Georgetown was named the large endowment of the year at the Non-Profit Awards for Excellence.

The university endowment’s 23.4 percent rate of return during the 2007 fiscal year was one of the highest figures in higher education, as Georgetown’s endowment rose by around $200 million for the year, breaking the $1 billion barrier for the first time. The success of the university’s investments comes at a crucial time in the financial history of Georgetown, as the university prepares for the completion of three buildings in the middle of campus in the coming years.

The achievement is also significant given the gap in resources between Georgetown and peer institutions and the considerable measures that were taken in the past few years to bridge that gap. uch of the success can be attributed to Georgetown’s Investment Office – which was established by University President John J. DeGioia in 2004 – and to Larry Kochard, the university’s chief investment officer.

But more can be done.

While the university is achieving its monetary goals, it is not doing enough to ensure that its investments are socially responsible. Georgetown does not disclose holdings or make investment decisions public to interested parties; only those privy to high-level administrator meetings and the board of directors know how and where the university is investing.

Georgetown has an obligation to its donors and to members of the school community to be as forthright as possible regarding investments. Other major universities and colleges with successful endowments have taken steps toward creating more transparent investment strategies. Georgetown should follow suit. Many schools have been able to sustain solid investment growth while committing to transparency – just take Dartmouth College, which makes its annual report public on its Web site and whose endowment had a 23.7 percent return rate last year.

The success of Georgetown’s endowment is absolutely crucial to its ability to compete among major research universities in the 21st century. While returns from the 2007 fiscal year are very encouraging, sharing information about Georgetown’s investment strategy with students, faculty, alumni, and friends of the school will foster a stronger symbiotic relationship in the future.

It is difficult to keep track of such a large and diverse portfolio, but an increased attitude of openness would go a long ways toward making sure that our financial successes continue and do not come at the expense of transparency of the administration’s actions.

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