Read it here.
Because it's a Bloomberg article and not an analysis, the piece didn't ask the two questions I'd most want to know the answer to:
1) Which universities screwed up the most in terms of the permanent, as opposed to quotational, endowment losses they sustained? In order for a loss to be quotational rather than permanent, it must satisfy two conditions:
a) It must represent a temporary deviation of market value from a relatively unchanged long-term intrinsic value. Berkshire Hathaway falling 40% to me is a quotational loss. A highly levered PE fund whose equity is completely wiped out, never to return, is a permanent loss.
b) The institution must have the ability to continue to hold the asset until its market value returns to its intrinsic value.
2) Recalling that the word "economics" comes from the Greek words oikos, meaning "household, and nomia, meaning "management": Which universities screwed up the most in terms of the basic household financial management that is seldom taught in universities, much less business schools: don't set out to spend more than you know you will earn. Also recall that, GAAP rules notwithstanding, the word "earn" should mean cash generated by an asset itself, not cash generated from selling an asset. The latter should more properly be looked at as "receiving a lump sum today in exchange for giving up the right to receive future earnings from the asset." A $37 billion dollar endowment upon which you must rely to meet annual cash operating expenses (unfortunately professors, janitors, utility companies, etc. do not yet accept payment in the form of LP interests in illiquid PE funds) does you little good if its assets do not themselves generate enough income (from dividends, distributions, rents) at a time when you can't sell them either.
This Vanity Fair article on Harvard is a little more interesting.
Little Addendum: America's greatness is its freedom of the press, but Graydon Carter's greatness is his menefreghista attitude about hypocrisy (your consigliere is trying to teach you his native language). At the highest levels, as practiced by masters like Pietro Arentino and Dean Martin, the menefreghista attitude can only be admired. Here's what I mean:
The owners of Vanity Fair depend for their very livelihood on very conspicuous consumption-no one needs to buy those Chanel dresses advertised on the first pages of the August issue, or the Private Collection Jasmine White Moss perfume from Estee Lauder advertised on the next pages, or the Gucci stilettos+dress+gigantic handbag on the next (although I'm sure whatever reptile that handbag came from needed his skin), or the . . . you get the idea. The employees of Vanity Fair also depend on consumption, especially when the owners of Vanity Fair are consuming it on them: the nice salaries, the beautiful cafeteria, the town cars home, the $55 macaroni-and-cheese dinners, the . . . you get the idea. So this particular magazine probably shouldn't run an article scolding Harvard University for its lack of Puritan virtue the handling of its financial affairs. But it runs it anyway, and it's a good article too. So learn that new word, readers: M-E-N-E-F-R-E-G-H-I-S-T-A.