The Center for Investigative Reporting’s analysis of the University of California’s endowment performance focused on the 10 U.S. universities with the largest endowments, based on data compiled by the National Association of College and University Business Officers. Investment performance data was obtained directly from each university. 

CIR obtained weighted returns for the system’s individual campuses and the regents’ general endowment pool using information from the University of California’s annual investment reports. 

At CIR’s request, James Ryans, a chartered financial analyst and a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, calculated the annualized returns of the 10 largest endowments, as well as the average return for the group.

UC’s policy allows the general endowment pool to spend up to 4.75 percent of the endowment’s market value on financial aid and other university needs each year. Using this metric, Ryans calculated how much more money the University of California system would have made had it achieved average returns and if it had done as well as the top performers, Columbia and Yale universities.

CIR’s top 10 list differs from the association of college’s rankings in two ways. CIR didn’t include Texas A&M University because most of its assets are managed by the University of Texas Investment Management Co., which handles the University of Texas endowment. UC is included because the combined holdings of the system’s campuses and the regents’ general endowment pool totaled $11.2 billion as of June 30, 2013, the sixth biggest among U.S. universities. NACUBO lists UC’s campus endowments separately.