A.J. Edwards is leaving as head of Cornell University’s $6 billion endowment, marking the third departure of its chief investment officer since 2010 as the fund lags its Ivy League peers.
Edwards will leave the university March 31, Cornell said in a statement Monday. Senior investment officers Cody Danks Burke and Roger Vincent will be interim co-CIOs until a replacement is named, which is expected by April 15, according to the Ithaca, New York-based school.
“After eight rewarding years in the investment office, I’ve decided now is the time to pursue other interests,” Edwards said in the statement. “My family and I will remain local as I begin my next venture.”
Cornell posted an investment return of 3.4 percent for the 2015 fiscal year, trailing the average of 7.8 percent among the eight schools in the Ivy League. Cornell ranked lowest while Princeton University ranked highest with a 12.7 percent return.
Edwards has led the investment office since May 2012 and served as interim chief the previous year after joining as a senior investment officer in 2008, according to the school.
The school said the endowment gained an annual 10 percent in the past five fiscal years. That’s lower than the average 10.4 percent return for endowments with more than $1 billion, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers.
“A.J.’s leadership was essential in helping the university endowment recover from the economic crisis of 2008, and he has been active in identifying new markets in which to invest,” Joanne DeStefano, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in the statement. The school declined further comment.
Cornell’s president, Elizabeth Garrett, died unexpectedly this month from colon cancer. The school announced last week that Hunter Rawlings, a president emeritus, will take over on an interim basis on April 25.