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University treasurer to leave Dec. 1

Departing from a career that has included everything from licensing and insuring vehicles to growing the University's endowment from $60 million to over $1.8 billion, University treasurer and UVIMCO president Alice Handy will step down Dec. 1 to establish her own company.

Handy, who came to the University 29 years ago, has been praised for her many achievements as the institution's first and only investment officer.

The University's $1.8 billion endowment is currently one of the five largest among public universities and one of the 25 largest among all institutions in the nation.

At the Oct. 3 meeting of the Board of Visitors, Handy reported an endowment return of 9.2 percent for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2003. Of the nation's 30 largest universities, only Harvard could boast a better figure.

For Handy, however, the growth is meaningful only for the opportunities it provides.

She said one of the highlights of her career came three years ago when the head of the Financial Aid Office told her that because the endowment had performed so well, most financial aid could be provided through scholarships rather than loans.

"The endowment is now a significant resource to the University of Virginia," Handy said. "It provides over $80 million a year in income that can be used for the University."

In 2003, $83 million of endowment earnings was spent on scholarships, fellowships, buildings and professorships.

Leonard Sandridge, University executive vice president and chief operating officer, said Handy's influence will be greatly missed.

"Alice had considered going into business for herself from time to time, I think we all hoped that day would never come" Sandridge said in an interview with Top News Daily. "Alice is recognized as an outstanding professional, but just as importantly, she has been a constant advocate for what is best for the University."

After she leaves the University next week, Handy won't be resting on her laurels for long.

She said her company, which will provide investment office services to medium-size endowments in the range of $150 to $900 million, will take its first client Jan. 1.

Ultimately, Handy said she hopes her Charlottesville-based firm will grow to a staff of seven to 10 and manage four to 10 clients and $3 to $4 billion.

At present, the search for Handy's replacement is in its mid-stages, according to University spokesperson Carol Wood.

Wood said she believes officials will begin talking to candidates in the next month, noting that whoever officials tap will have a tall order to fill.

"Alice is a tough act to follow; there aren't many people like Alice out there," Wood said.

However, Handy expressed confidence that the staff she leaves behind is fully capable of continuing her work.

"No one person would ever have produced all this, I'm just lucky to have been the constant figure," she said. "The staff can carry on just fine."

While someone with Handy's resume, which includes a stint as state treasurer, could easily have left to start a company earlier, Handy said she remained because she knew she could make a difference.

The University "was a place growing in excellence and it had room to grow its endowment to be equally excellent," she said. "Working in a college, what you do has tangible results: You borrow money and see Scott Stadium go up; people get higher raises; people get scholarships; wonderful things happen, and I think that's what draws all of us here."