Harvard endowment PE manager leaves for UNC

Kevin Tunick is the second alternative investment manager to leave the influential endowment following the arrival of a new CEO.

Harvard Management Company (HMC), charged with supervising the largest university endowment in the world, has lost another high-ranking alternative investment officer with the departure of private equity manager Kevin Tunick, now directing private equity investments at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Tunick’s exit is the third high-level HMC departure within the last six months, and the second since Harvard Business School professor and former Goldman Sachs director Robert Kaplan was tapped as interim chief executive in October.

Kaplan replaced former HMC chief Mohamed El-Erian, who left the endowment in September to rejoin bond giant Pacific Investment Management Company. David Ferrero, former manager of the company’s real estate investments, abandoned his post in early December.  

Reached by PEO at his new office in UNC, Tunick declined to comment on the reasons behind his departure, or on any other matter relating to his new role.

Despite the recent turnover in upper management, Harvard remains a major heavyweight in the world of university endowment limited partners. As of last year, HMC managed over $33 billion (€21.48 billion) in assets, of which nearly $3 billion was allocated to private equity, according to PrivateEquityConnect, a sister data service.

HMC has been highly active in private equity since the early 1980s, and has made substantial commitments to funds managed by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Thomas H. Lee Partners, among others. Forty-three percent of the university’s endowment is tied up in alternative asset investments.

However, over the last year HMC’s overall rate of return has trailed behind some of its Ivy League rivals. Despite earning a twenty three percent return for fiscal year 2007, HMC was outpaced by Yale by five percentage points.