There is a certain predictability to the annual story about college endowments. Harvard University has the biggest in the country, $32.33 billion. The University of Texas system has the biggest among public systems, $20.45 billion. The University of Virginia has the biggest among schools in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia — $5.17 billion.

Those are among figures for the 2013 endowment ranking made public Tuesday by the National Association of College and University Business Officers and the Commonfund Institute. Endowments typically represent funds or assets invested for the purpose of generating revenue to support a school. Such revenue might be channeled into student financial aid, for instance, or compensation for a professor who holds an endowed faculty chair.

The study of endowments for 835 institutions found that they generated an average net return of 11.7 percent in 2013, a strong recovery from 2012, when they generated a slight net loss.

Here is another way of looking at the numbers: Endowment dollars per enrolled student. A Washington Post analysis produced this ranking of Maryland, Virginia and D.C. colleges.

1)Washington and Lee University: $608,208 per student

2)University of Richmond: $489,917

3)U-Va.: $220,195

4)Hollins University: $219,803

5)Virginia Military Institute: $201,893

6)Randolph College: $199,262

7)St. John’s College (includes enrollment in Annapolis and New Mexico): $148,424

8)Johns Hopkins University: $140,071

9)Hampden-Sydney College: $125,213

10)Sweet Briar College: $124,025

11)Washington College: $120,152

12)Gallaudet University: $112,799

13)Randolph-Macon College: $96,054

14)Goucher College: $93,556

15)Emory and Henry College: $90,074

16)College of William and Mary: $83,300

17)Georgetown University: $72,067

18)Roanoke College: $57,825

19)Eastern Virginia Medical School: $56,551

20)Hampton University: $54,965

21)George Washington University: $54,433

22)Howard University: $49,885

23)Virginia Commonwealth University: $42,410

24)Catholic University: $39,329

25)Bridgewater College: $37,946

26)American University: $37,301

27)Virginia Wesleyan College: $35,926

28)Maryland Institute College of Art: $31,243

29)McDaniel College: $30,600

30)Lynchburg College: $29,759


We could go on, but we’ll stop there for now. A few points: Washington and Lee, and Richmond, two private universities, have extremely strong endowments. The list is dominated by private schools, which is to be expected because they are smaller than public universities and more reliant on fund-raising. Hollins University, a women’s college in Virginia, ranks highly on this measure.

Hopkins, which ranks first in the nation in annual research spending, has a somewhat smaller endowment than one might expect for a private university of its prominence.

U-Va. and Virginia Military Institute are in a class by themselves among public institutions in the region, followed by William and Mary.

Notice that University of Maryland at College Park, the state’s public flagship, didn’t make this list. Its endowment per student is $6,651. (Footnote: the University System of Maryland Foundation also has an $867 million endowment, for institutions statewide with about 153,000 students. The system includes U-Md.)

George Mason, the largest public four-year university in Virginia, has a very small endowment of $1,747 per student.

Howard has a smaller endowment per student than Gallaudet, which is interesting because both schools also receive a special annual appropriation from Congress.


Here are the regional institutions that rank among the top 100 nationally for total endowment:

U-Va. (19th, $5.17 billion)

Hopkins (25th, $2.99 billion)

Richmond (34th, $2.02 billion)

GWU (55th, $1.38 billion)

Washington and Lee (59th, $1.35 billion)

VCU (61st, $1.33 billion)

Georgetown (64th, $1.29 billion).

University System of Maryland (94th, $867 million)