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As Golden prepares to retire, Princeton’s endowment has lowest returns in Ivy League

A brick building with a white doorway bearing the address "twenty two."
Princeton experienced an investment loss of 1.7 percent in the past year.
Ammaar Alam / The Daily Princetonian

For the second consecutive year, the University endowment has experienced an investment loss. This year’s 1.7 percent decrease is greater than the 1.5 percent decrease last year, and it marks the lowest investment return since the Great Recession in 2008, when the University recorded a 23.7 percent decrease.

This is not the first time that the University’s endowment has decreased, but it is notable given that the endowment’s decrease is an outlier from other colleges. All Ivy League universities, except Princeton, that have reported their endowment thus far saw positive annual returns this year.


Columbia had the largest annual return of 4.7 percent. The University of Pennsylvania had the smallest positive return at 1.3 percent.

However, despite their positive returns, some other Ivy League schools still saw an endowment decrease, meaning they spent more money than their endowments earned. Harvard and Yale both experienced decreases of $0.2 billion and $0.7 billion, respectively.

Last year, Princeton’s endowment loss was in the middle of the pack, with the fourth highest returns in the Ivy League.

These numbers contrast starkly with the University’s 2021 earnings when PRINCO’s investments generated a historic 46.9 percent investment return. The average annual return on the endowment for the past 10 years is 10.8 percent and is 10.5 percent for the past 20 years.


These endowment returns come in the penultimate year of the direction of Andrew Golden, President of the Princeton University Investment Company (PRINCO). After almost 30 years with PRINCO, Golden will retire on June 30, 2024. Under Golden’s direction, the endowment has grown nearly tenfold and reached a 37.7 billion valuation in 2021. In 1996, the year after Golden joined, it was valued at approximately $4 billion.

University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 wrote in a statement that “Andy Golden’s achievements are the stuff of legend.” 

According to an announcement from the Office of Communications on Wednesday, Oct. 25, the current endowment value stands at $34.1 billion for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2023. This marks an overall $1.7 billion dollar decrease during the 2022–2023 fiscal year. 

Allison Lesser is a contributing News writer for the ‘Prince.’

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Correction: A previous version of this article implied that the past fiscal year was Golden's last year, when it was actually his penultimate year. The 'Prince' regrets this error.