Endowments Falling at Texas Universities

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    Tough economic times left some universities in Texas with losses in their endowments, part of a national trend, a new study finds.

    The University of Texas System's endowment, the fifth largest of any university or college system in the country, fell from $16.2 billion in 2008 to $12.2 billion in 2009, The Dallas Morning News reported Friday.

    Texas A&M System's slid from $6.7 billion to $5.1 billion while Southern Methodist University in Dallas saw its endowment shrink from $1.4 billion to $1 billion.

    Endowment results were reported this week by the Commonfund Institute and National Association of College and University Business Officers.

    Texas leaders have asked state-supported universities to submit plans to trim 5 percent from their state budgets.

    Endowments, stockpiles of money that universities invest, usually do not make up a huge portion of schools' budgets. Universities look at investment changes over a few years.

    For example, endowments dropped 18.7 percent nationally, but over three years, the figures are down only 2.5 percent, the newspaper reported.

    "We don't plan on a big payout in good years," UT-Dallas spokeswoman Susan Rogers said. "We use a moderate amount of the proceeds and then bank some in good years for use in less good years."

    The study's endowment results reflect market values from several months ago. Some markets have rebounded some since then.

    At the Texas A&M System, endowment returns actually rose 25 percent from December 2008 to December 2009, said Greg Anderson, chief investment officer.

    Schools are still looking at the numbers and trying to watch how their dollars are spent.

    "Make no mistake," UTA spokeswoman Kristin Sullivan said. "As an institution, we are trying to be conservative with our resources."