Knight Diversity of Asset Managers Research Series: Higher Education – Knight Foundation
Learning and Impact

Knight Diversity of Asset Managers Research Series: Higher Education

Since 2021, we have sought to examine the management of the largest 25 private and 25 public college and university endowments. In April 2024, we released a paper on the information we were able to collect.


The Knight Diversity of Asset Managers (KDAM) research series on higher education focuses on diversity in asset management within higher education institutions. These institutions have the power to incite change through their investment decisions, impacting both their graduates and society at large. 

In 2021, in partnership with Global Economics Group and the Center for Business and Human Rights at New York University’s Stern School of Business, we started a study of the 50 wealthiest higher education institutions to understand the extent to which endowments are managed by firms owned by women and racial or ethnic minorities. At the time, these institutions collectively managed $587 billion in assets. The interim report applauded the 12 institutions that fully participated, revealing that they allocated $97.36 billion in assets to eligible US-based firms. Due to a low response rate from the 50 colleges and universities invited to participate, the interim report presented available information without drawing wider conclusions.

Throughout 2022 and 2023, we continued our efforts to collect data from colleges and universities by re-inviting the 50 institutions from the 2022 interim report to participate, including sending public records requests to public universities. By the time of our 2024 report, 18 institutions fully participated in the study, but participation remained too low for findings to be representative of the whole.

This has been a call for transparency among our wealthiest higher education institutions. By sharing findings as well as the list of participating institutions, the studies aim to spark discussions and promote awareness of both progress and remaining challenges that are making it difficult to measure and track how higher education institutions are managing their endowments.

Key Findings

As of 2023, our country’s wealthiest 25 public and 25 private colleges and universities managed over $566 billion in endowment assets. Our studies sought to assess the extent to which these assets were managed by women- or minority-owned firms.

Unfortunately, lack of participation in both 2022 and 2023 across the invited higher education institution hinders a comprehensive study of diversity in asset management. In 2022, 34 out of the 50 institutions invited to the study chose not to participate, denying visibility into the asset management firms responsible for the $273 billion in assets they hold. 

By 2023, of the 50 invited institutions, 18 fully participated in the study by providing their asset manager rosters for independent analysis or by making their rosters publicly available, 8 self-reported their summary statistics and 24 did not participate at all. The 26 institutions that elected to participate in some form collectively hold $372 billion in endowment assets, accounting for 66% total assets of invited institutions. 

Circle of Transparency

Our higher education research relies on participation from colleges and universities. We honor the participating institutions as members of the Circle of Transparency.

We hope the other invited institutions that chose not to participate in this study will reconsider their decision in the future.

  • Boston College
  • Brown University
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Cornell University
  • Emory University
  • University of Florida
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Indiana University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Kansas University
  • The University System of Maryland
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • New York University
  • University of North Carolina
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Purdue University
  • University of Virginia
  • Washington University
  • Williams College
  • University of Wisconsin
  • Yale University