Could Farming Become the Hot Endowment Investment?
George Washington University is planning to increase, to 10 percent from 6 percent, the share of its $1 billion endowment invested in farms, Bloomberg reported. The news service quoted one of the university's analysts as saying that the fund already has farm investments in Latin America and Eastern Europe and is now looking to Australia. The endowment data collected each year by the National Association of College and University Business Officers is not granular enough to determine whether GW's strategy is unusual.
When I saw the headline, I thought for an instant the school was going to increase its investment in course offerings on agriculture. Not only is there no real interest in what farming involves, but the investment strategy shows an ongoing commitment to deracination and placelessness that lies at the heart of modern elite institutions of higher education. I'm willing to bet that they won't be increasing the course offerings in animal husbandry or topsoil stewardship. Probably not even a minor increase of assignments of essays by Wendell Berry. But, if it raises the return of their endowment so that they can increase the numbers of faculty teaching in the Program of Advanced Deracination, I guess we can all be pro-farming.