The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Board calls for investment law changes

The Board of Visitors voted unanimously Saturday to request that a decades-old restriction on the investment of endowment funds be lifted.

The resolution calls for Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) to introduce legislation ending a block that keeps the University from making certain investments without the permission of the governor.

University Treasurer Alice Handy said legislation requiring the governor's approval was written in the early 1970s, and "a lot has happened since then" in financial markets.

Handy said the University is able to make certain investments -- such as stocks and bonds -- without prior approval, but other kinds of investments require a lengthier process.

The legislators of the 1970s "never envisioned the kind of bonds we now have," she said.

She added that the University is unable to make certain types of investments without gubernatorial approval, including synthetic securities, options and futures.

Board Secretary Alexander G. "Sandy" Gilliam said the Board typically does not have difficulty obtaining approval for such investments, but the members wanted more flexibility and efficiency in their financial dealings.

Gilliam said that two weeks ago, Gilmore approved a Board request to make an investment in less than one day.

But "the stock market is highly volatile," he said, and the Board does not want to add another step to a process for which timeliness is critical.

Handy said the University's current endowment is valued at about $1.5 billion.

The University "needs to have all the tools that other people with a billion and a half dollars have" when deciding what moves to make in their financial strategy.

University Rector John P. Ackerly III said he is pleased the Board took this action, stressing that the Board needs flexibility when determining where to invest funds.

There "wasn't any argument" among Board members, Ackerly said. He said he hopes the governor is receptive to the Board's legislative suggestions.

The Board spent the majority of its Saturday meeting in closed session discussing issues of personnel and fundraising.