You wouldn’t know it at first blush, but the University of Texas Investment Management Co. doesn’t just oversee stocks, bonds and other assets for Longhorn Nation. The $18 billion Permanent University Fund endowment it manages also benefits Aggieland.
The investment company’s name and the makeup of its board of directors will soon take on more of an Aggie flavor.
On Wednesday, the UT System announced that Chancellor Bill McRaven has decided to relinquish his seat on the nonprofit investment company’s nine-member board of directors so that the UT System Board of Regents can name an A&M System representative to the position. The A&M System would thus have three representatives or appointees rather than two on UTIMCO’s board.
And on Thursday, the investment company’s board is expected to tweak the company’s formal name to the University of Texas/Texas A&M Investment Management Co. The company will continue to go by UTIMCO for short.
The UT board, which retains ultimate oversight of the endowment under the Texas Constitution, is virtually certain to approve the changes when it meets next month.
The developments, coming 21 years after UTIMCO’s formation as the first external investment arm of a public university system in the nation, reflect heightened cooperation, with a political dimension, between the UT and A&M systems. Proceeds from the Permanent University Fund benefit campuses in both systems.
John Sharp has continually sought to enhance the Aggie brand since he was named chancellor of the A&M System in 2011. UT System officials, for their part, are having a tough legislative session, and it won’t hurt to be magnanimous to a rival in higher education that enjoys friendlier relations at the Capitol.
Under state law, the UT board names seven UTIMCO directors, including three UT regents, three people with a background in investments and one “qualified” person who “may” be, but doesn’t have to be, the UT chancellor. The A&M board names two people to UTIMCO’s board, including one with a background in investments.
“Chancellor McRaven has served on the UTIMCO board since his appointment as chancellor in 2015,” said Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, a UT System spokeswoman. “He has appreciated the experience and the exposure to the process by which the investments of the various funds benefiting the UT and Texas A&M systems are governed and managed. As conversations have unfolded between the two systems over the past several months about the opportunity to increase the A&M presence on the board, McRaven willingly volunteered to give up his role on the board.”
“We’re appreciative of this change that reflects Texas A&M’s historic role in this great endowment,” Sharp said.
No word has emerged, though, on whether the enhanced cooperation between the state’s largest university systems will lead to a resumption of Aggie-Longhorn competition in football and basketball, which ceased after the College Station flagship left the Big 12 Conference for the Southeastern Conference in 2012. A&M System officials have been more open to the notion of resuming competition, but officials of the two systems declined to comment on the matter Wednesday.
The new balance of power on UTIMCO’s board — three A&M directors, six UT directors — is precisely proportional to the two system’s shares of the Permanent University Fund. Under the state constitution, UT System campuses receive two-thirds of the endowment’s proceeds and A&M System campuses and agencies receive one-third.
The math isn’t quite as neat as that, though, because UTIMCO also manages roughly an additional $18 billion in UT System assets, meaning that the A&M System is getting a third of UTIMCO’s board seats even though it holds just a sixth of the assets under management.