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Compensation Flap Continued

Further news coverage of the compensation of Harvard Management Company’s (HMC) highest-performing portfolio managers, who earned up to $35.1 million in the 2003 fiscal year (see "’Extraordinary’ Bonuses," March-April, page 69), prompted further comment from the University. On June 4, the New York Times ran a front-page story on alumni criticism of the pay formula. Two days before his previously announced retirement on June 30, Harvard Treasurer D. Ronald Daniel responded in a letter disseminated along with the alumni association’s electronic "Harvard Monthly" newsletter. Daniel’s comments went beyond those he made in January, when the compensation figures were released. In the new letter (available electronically at www.aad.harvard.edu/devel/images/hmc_compensation.pdf), he reviewed the rationale for Harvard’s in-house system of managing the endowment through HMC; indicated why HMC’s compensation appears higher than that at other institutions who retain external investment professionals; and reported that, compared to the results of the two highest-paid HMC managers, "Had equivalent performance in these portfolios been achieved through external hedge fund management, we estimate that Harvard would have paid roughly four times in fees what it paid…in salary and bonuses." Despite the "extraordinarily high bonuses" occasionally resulting from extraordinary investment returns, Daniel wrote, the HMC board remains focused on "how to generate the best investment returns for Harvard net of costs, not simply to reduce costs at whatever risk to the capacity to generate excellent returns." Investment results for the year ended June 30, which determine bonus payments for fiscal year 2004, will be released in mid September.