As of June 30, 2022, the value of the foundation’s assets reached a total of over $2.6 billion. Expenditures in support of university projects and programs were $242 million with contributions at $203 million. The value of the endowment was $1.68 billion at fiscal year's end.
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Relative to the policy benchmark, the endowment had its best-ever performance during this fiscal year, even though 2021-22 was extremely challenging for all investors. Equity markets in the second half experienced the worst market sell-off in more than 50 years. The endowment had a relatively small negative return overall of -3.5 percent, versus the policy benchmark return of -15.7 percent and as compared to -11 percent in the S&P 500 during the same period.
The most significant positive drivers in the past year were resources and real estate investments. Some resource investments returned more than 100 percent as the sector benefited from rising commodity prices. Real estate investment returns mostly ranged from 15-30 percent. A common factor in the strongest returns was the completion of development or value-add projects in which the endowment was an early investor, driving significant value creation independent of market movements.
The endowment has a 10-year annualized performance of 7.5 percent compared to the policy benchmark of 6.3 percent. Additionally, the returns have been achieved with less volatility than the policy benchmark.
Real Estate Highlights
Virginia Tech Foundation properties play a significant role in the university’s strength in two ways. First, they offer students and faculty state-of-the-art facilities for experiential learning and entrepreneurship. Second, the investments are a strong insulation against market vagaries and enable the tolerance of calculated risk in other parts of the foundation portfolio. The foundation owns more than 2 million square feet of property across 2,500 acres.
The Steger Center for International Scholarship, in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland, opens students to enriching experiences that prepare them for a variety of professions and services. Alumna, advocate, and donor Kay Moody Winzenried ’72 noted, at the sesquicentennial celebration, that the impact of study abroad opens students’ perspectives and strengthens their ability to navigate the globe.
Reynolds Homestead celebrated the university’s anniversary and its own 50-plus years of community engagement by bringing together, for the first time, descendants of the formerly enslaved community and the property’s original owners. The event opened wide the door to dialogue and to doing better for one another. Designated a state and national historic landmark, Reynolds Homestead includes the Cemetery for African Americans, a tobacco barn, stands of loblolly pines, cover for small birds and mammals, a rock spring, and two research ponds situated upon 784 acres. The significance of Reynolds Homestead will grow over time and be part of the university’s work at the forefront of essential dialogue and change.
The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, now in its 140th year, saw revenues return to pre-pandemic levels in the fourth quarter and won multiple industry and media awards. A Virginia Tech Foundation holding since 1989, the property also exceeded peer group benchmarks in two ways: a noteworthy increase in group bookings accounted for more than 35 percent of stays from January through June, against a peer average of 15 percent; and a 68 percent occupancy in the latter half of the fiscal year, against a peer average of 48 percent. An internship program for Roanoke high school students helped to grow the employee candidate pool, affirming the team’s united focus on excellent customer service over the long term.
Gilbert Place was topped off in downtown Blacksburg, a move forward toward the fourth quarter of 2022 opening of the sought-after mixed-use building. The central aim of this foundation investment is to work with the university to grow the tech talent pipeline and satisfy the goals of partnerships with Amazon, Boeing, and the commonwealth. Retail stores, a restaurant, event space, and office space are features targeted to the Blacksburg community and helpful for Virginia Tech’s need for space. The $100 million project is being constructed by the W.M. Jordan Company, whose chairman is Class of 1975 member John R. Lawson II. A marquee presence for the university in its hometown, the building will be among the town’s largest at six stories and 250,000 square feet. The foundation is working with the Blacksburg Museum and Cultural Foundation to develop a tribute to the history of the nearby St. Luke and Odd Fellows Hall. The hall is the only remaining structure from New Town, northern Blacksburg’s historic Black community, and the African American community that created it. The foundation will erect a commemorative plaque in the Gilbert Place lobby and incorporate footpaths and landscaping to guide visitors from Gilbert Place to St. Luke and Odd Fellows Hall.
The Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech, a nationally ranked golf course, also is recognized within sports and university circles as a major destination. Golfweek puts the course at No. 14 among top campus courses; GolfLink puts it at No. 7 on its list of best college golf courses in the United States; GolfDay gives the course a score of 96.1 and names it as one of the top 10 university golf facilities in the United States; and NBC’s GolfPass puts the course at No. 8 among top college golf courses. The course hosts three PGA tournaments and several amateur and collegiate contests. For Virginia Tech Athletics, the course is a world-class training ground. The foundation will complete the management transition to McConnell Golf LLC, which manages 14 other private clubs in the southeastern United States. McConnell Golf is owned by Class of 1972 member John McConnell.
The College of Engineering’s Swing Space is under construction at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center. The 68,000-square-foot building will provide swing space to the Virginia Tech College of Engineering as it replaces Randolph Hall with Mitchell Hall on the Blacksburg campus.
The Hokie Stone Quarry, which produces Virginia Tech’s fabled Hokie Stone, now includes 10 additional acres. The foundation bought the original 37 acres in 1975, acquiring additional land over time to increase the holding to 99 acres. Leased to the university, the property is Virginia Tech’s primary source of stone.