Yale’s 36-Year-Old Endowment Chief Was Molded in Swensen Way

Yale University had such a successful decades-long run with David Swensen, its late chief investment officer, that it’s only natural the school wanted someone of the same mold to take over its $31 billion endowment.

It didn’t have to stray far.

In Matthew Mendelsohn, Yale selected one of Swensen’s many proteges. His only job since graduating from the New Haven, Connecticut-based Ivy League school 14 years ago has been learning from the legendary money manager. Swensen began leading Yale’s endowment in 1985 — the same year the 36-year-old Mendelsohn was born.

For Yale, no one can ever truly replace Swensen, who oversaw explosive growth in the endowment’s assets over more than three decades and revolutionized how universities and other institutional investors manage money. Yet Mendelsohn, who begins Sept. 1, had a front-row seat for more than a decade, experience managing venture investments that account for quarter of Yale’s assets and deep roots on campus.

“One of the great things about going with a young leader is the potential for a long runway, just like David,” Richard Levin, a former Yale president, said in an interview.