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Michigan State University Names its First Chief Investment Officer

Philip Zecher will oversee MSU's $2.2 billion endowment as the university's first CIO.

Philip Zecher

Michigan State University Names its First Chief Investment Officer

Michigan State University has named alumnus Philip Zecher its first chief investment officer.

A former hedge fund manager with a doctorate in physics from MSU, Zecher will oversee all of the university’s long-term investments, including its $2.2 billion endowment. He will report to Lou Anna K. Simon, university president.

The CIO role will replace some functions previously performed by the investment advisory subcommittee of the Board of Trustees, MSU’s Vice President for Finance, and investment consultant Cambridge Associates, all will remain to advise the CIO.

“The endowment has grown significantly over the last decade and so has the complexity of managing the investments,” says Zecher, who does not foresee immediate or major changes to the strategy. “Having a CIO role will allow us to grow our internal talent and capabilities to identify investment opportunities that we might not have seen in the past.”

From 2010 until 2014, Zecher served on the MSU Foundation’s board of directors and from 2011 until 2014 the Board of Trustee’s investment advisory subcommittee. He has also served as senior adviser to the president for investments and as an executive in residence and professor of finance in the Eli Broad College of Business.

Zecher earned a PhD in nuclear physics from MSU in 1996 and worked with Deloitte Consulting in New York focusing on technology solutions for financial risk measurement. In 1999, he leveraged these skills to start Investor Analytics, a risk assessment firm focusing on hedge fund risks, with fellow MSU physics alumnus Damian Handzy.  From 2007 until 2012 he was a partner and chief risk officer of EQA Parthers, a Connecticut based hedge fund started by ex-Goldman Sachs partner and former Chairman of the University of Chicago Board of Trustees, Andrew Alper.

Since then, he has been consulting with other funds on risk and technology issues and developing textbook materials for risk models, general portfolio analytics, and risk methods.  He is a member of the Greenwich Roundtable and recently co-authored the Roundtable’s Best Governance Practices for Investment Committees.

Zecher is also an Empower the Extraordinary campaign volunteer for the College of Natural Science and a member of the President’s Club, a leadership giving society recognizing lifelong donors to MSU. Additionally he is a former member of the College of Natural Sciences Deans Advisory Board, and member of the President’s FRIB Leadership Advisory Board.

“Great things are happening at MSU and I’ve seen first-hand from all of the time I’ve spent at MSU the importance endowment dollars make, from providing access for students and developing faculty to giving the university flexibility to develop and grow,” says Zecher. “I’m honored the President and Trustees have entrusted me with such an important resource.”  



Author: Stephanie Motschenbacher