Nonprofit news roundup for Aug. 13, 2009

University of Pennsylvania endowment outperforms Harvard

The University of Pennsylvania’s endowment lost 16 percent of its value in fiscal 2009, besting Harvard’s loss of 30 percent, Bloomberg News reported Aug. 13 (see University of Pennsylvania story). Penn’s performance is due to selecting the right “stock pickers,” investing in credit strategies and increasing its reliance on Treasury bonds. Penn has worked to cut its budget, including $30 million in savings from cutting or delaying capital projects, and so far has avoided the major layoffs or across-the-board budget cuts plaguing its peers, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Aug. 11 (see Penn budget story).

Buffett’s kids focus on giving away $1 billion each

With $1 billion grants from their father and advice on how their foundations should manage them, billionaire-investor Warren Buffett’s three adult children are adjusting to running high-dollar philanthropic organizations, Fast Company reported in its Sept. 2009 issue (see Warren Buffett story). Each child runs a separate foundation with a distinct mission and gives away tens of millions of dollars a year.

Funding for the arts climbs in Texas

While arts funding is declining in most states, the Texas legislature presented the Texas Arts Commission with a spike in funding, bring its total funding for the next two years to about $16 million from just over $10 million, The Houston Chronicle reported Aug. 12 (see Texas arts funding story). The increase is due to the closure of a state cultural endowment fund.

New N.E.A. chief under fire for comments in interview

Rocco Landesman, who was confirmed Friday as the new chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, is coming under fire for comments in a New York Times article, David Itzkoff wrote in a blog in the New York Times Aug. 12 (see National Endowment for the Arts story). Some criticized his new slogan, “Art Works,” while Illinois representatives bristled at what they took as a disparaging comment about Peoria, Ill.

San Diego colleges report double-digit endowment drops

Colleges and universities in the San Diego-area are reeling from fiscal 2009 endowment losses ranging from 12.6 percent at San Diego State University to 23.1 percent Cal State San Marcos, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Aug. 13 (see San Diego colleges story).

Cleveland Art Museum lays off staff to balance budget

In an effort to balance its budget, the Cleveland Museum of Art has laid off 14 of its 300 staffers and will leave unfilled another eight positions, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Aug. 12 (see Cleveland Museum of Art story). The layoffs, which affected employees in information-technology, finance and clerical support, will save the museum $1.2 million in fiscal 2011.

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