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David F. Swensen Chief Investment Officer

The David F. Swensen Chief Investment Officer position was established in 2019 with an endowment from Stephen C. Freidheim and contributions from other generous CFR members to honor David F. Swensen and his many important contributions to institutional investment strategy as well as to the Council. 

David F. Swensen (1954–2021)

David F. Swensen
David F. Swensen (Yale University)

David F. Swensen was an investor, endowment fund manager, and philanthropist who served as chief investment officer of Yale University from 1985 until his death in 2021. He was responsible for managing and investing Yale’s endowment assets and investments funds, and invented the Yale Model with Dean Takahashi, an application of the modern portfolio theory commonly known as the endowment model that has revolutionized endowment investment strategy for many organizations. He taught students in Yale College and in the School of Management and was a fellow of Berkeley College, an incorporator emeritus of the Elizabethan Club, and a fellow of the International Center for Finance. He advised many institutions, including the University of Cambridge, the Brookings Institution, the Carnegie Corporation, the Hopkins School, the States of Connecticut and Massachusetts, and the New York Stock Exchange. Swensen served as a member of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board under President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2011.

Swensen authored Pioneering Portfolio Management: An Unconventional Approach to Institutional Investment and Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment. He received a BA in economics from the University of Wisconsin–River Falls in 1975, MAs in economics and philosophy from Yale University in 1976 and 1978, respectively, and a PhD in economics from Yale University in 1980. He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations from 2017 until his passing. 

David F. Swensen Chief Investment Officers

Giovanna Ban