Harvard hires real estate head

Daniel Cummings, formerly of The Carlyle Group and LaSalle Investment Management, will reportedly take over as managing director of real estate investment for Harvard University’s endowment. The position has been vacant since 2007.

Harvard Management Company (HMC) has named The Carlyle Group alum Daniel Cummings as its managing director of real estate investments filling the role left vacant since December 2007.

Cummings, who is currently managing director of real estate investment firm Matapeake Partners, will join the management company of Harvard University’s endowment at the end of June, according to various media reports.

Prior to co-founding Matapeake, Cummings was a senior advisor for international real estate investments at The Carlyle Group, which he joined as a managing director in 2000. Prior to Carlyle, he was co-chief executive officer and co-chief investment officer of LaSalle Investment Management where he managed a $22 billion portfolio of real estate investments in North America and Europe.

David Ferrero vacated the top real estate position at HMC in December 2007 before resurfacing a year later as partner at private equity real estate firm Alcion Ventures.

Personnel changes have abounded at HMC which laid off roughly 25 percent of its 200-person staff in February. In addition to the loss of Ferraro, the endowment saw its CEO Mohamed El-Erian depart in September 2007, while private equity head Kevin Tunick left in February 2008.

Cummings will report to Jane Mendillo who took over as CEO in July 2008 from interim head Robert Kaplan, a Harvard Business professor and former Goldman Sachs director.

Harvard’s endowment said in December that it lost $8 billion, or 22 percent, of its portfolio value since 30 June when it reported a value of $36.9 billion. The university expected losses to hit 30 percent once valuations for real estate and private equity were fully updated.

Harvard has allocated more than 33 percent of its endowment to “real assets”, which include real estate and commodities, according to Harvard Management Company's fiscal year 2007 annual report.