Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Endowment Data from 847 Colleges and Universities

The 2014 NACUBO report on college and university endowments is hot off the presses.  Unfortunately, it's in a table in a pdf on the organization's website.  So, after considerable frustration to get the data into useable format, it's now visualized here for you.

Note that there are three different views, and you can change them by clicking the tabs across the top:

  1. Endowment Value Dashboard is a heat map, which is sort of like a pie chart, except it's like a sheet cake cut into pieces the size of the listed university endowment. The 847 institutions in the study collectively hold about $455B in endowment funds.  You can see the pieces of the cake: Harvard's for instance, is about $32B, or 7% of all the endowments of all the colleges and universities in the country. The pieces are colored by the percentage gain in one year.  For instance, Stanford gained $1.6B between 2012 and 2013, but the 10% increase only ranked it 483rd.  When you have a lot, you don't need a big increase to grow a lot.
  2. The Endowment Change Dashboard shows four variables: The rank of the percentage change along the x-axis and the rank of the value gained along the y-axis; the color shows the raw amount of the one-year change; and the size shows the relative value of the endowment at the end of 2013.
  3. The Value and Change Dashboard shows the 2013 value in the gray bar; the amount of change on the red, both on the top chart; and then the values and changes arrayed on the bottom.  Each of the two dot charts is colored by the rank of the other variable.
Confused? Good.  This is really intended to show a couple of things:
  • The (some might say) ridiculous range of endowment at institutions of higher learning in the US and Canada.  Note that even with relatively modest growth at the wealthiest institutions, six of them increased endowment by more than $1B in a year.  Only 83 institutions even have an endowment of $1B or more.
  • The absolute futility of trying to catch up, unless you're already in striking distance.
  • Never put your data in a table if you want it to be interesting
There's a lot of stuff here. And way more that could be done.  What do you see?