Bowdoin has established a second investment office in New York City, College officials confirmed this week. A statement sent to the Orient did not disclose the date of the opening, though a February 22 article published on the website of Foundation and Endowment Intelligence suggests that it occurred earlier this year.
Paula Volent, senior vice president for investments, wrote in an email to the Orient that the impetus for opening the office was "to attract and retain experienced professional talent for the oversight of Bowdoin's endowment portfolio."
Even with a satellite office in New York, the investment office in Brunswick "will continue to be the principal office," wrote Volent.
Although Volent did not disclose the distribution of her time between the two offices, she confirmed that she will work out of both.
The Foundation and Endowment Intelligence article, citing an unnamed source, said that the College "plans to relocate the investment staff...sometime in the next few months." The Orient was unable to confirm if this is the case; beyond the statement issued by Volent, senior administrators contacted for this story declined to comment, as did several trustees and faculty with knowledge of the move.
The New York office will ostensibly aid Volent's management of the endowment in several ways. Maintaining an office in the country's financial capital will allow Volent to hire and retain top investment associates. A source with knowledge of the decision, who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to discuss the office, said that attracting talented financial professionals to Brunswick had been difficult, as the majority of them make their careers in New York.
According to the Foundation and Endowment Intelligence report, the College is now looking to hire a head of private equity and a head of real assets.
In opening the office, Bowdoin joins a group of colleges and universities that have moved their offices closer to financial centers.
"Williams, Dartmouth, Tulane, and others maintain off-campus investment oversight offices," wrote Volent.
Williams and Dartmouth's investment offices are based in Boston while Tulane's office is located in Darien, Conn. Williams hired Collette Chilton as its chief investment officer in 2006 and opened the Boston office shortly after.
Williams' endowment is the largest of any liberal arts college in the country,but Williamstown, Mass., like Brunswick, is not a hotbed of financial activity. In a 2007 article published in The Williams Record, Chilton cited greater access to investors as the principal reason for the move.
"Investment does not occur here at Williamstown," Chilton told The Record, "and so we need to have an office at a financial capital, which in this case is Boston."
Volent also cited proximity to fund managers as a primary reason for the new office.
"The College's endowment is invested across a range of asset classes in global markets. All investments are made through experienced investment managers with particular expertise in their markets of focus," she wrote. "Many of these managers have offices in New York or make frequent visits to the city, and most members of the College's Investment Committee are based in New York."
Many details about the office remain unknown: Volent did not specify where in New York City the office is located, its physical size, or if there is a possibility that it will become the College's primary office in the future. Bowdoin also offers internships to students every summer in the Brunswick investment office; it is not known whether these internships will be available in New York.
Volent flies frequently to meet with investment mangers across the country, so a New York location should make traveling easier for her. It is not clear if this factor influenced the decision.
Volent, who was hired by Bowdoin in 2000, oversees the College's $904 million endowment. In calendar year 2009—the most recent for which data is available—she was Bowdoin's highest paid employee, with a compensation package worth $772,873.
This is typical compensation for a manager of an educational endowment the size of Bowdoin's, and it reflects the strong returns Volent has achieved in recent years.