July 27, 2016; Boston Globe
If it wasn’t for one small point, we might encourage you to steer clear of a new job posting at Harvard because, well, there seems to be high turnover. (The one small point is the $8.3 million in compensation—at least as of 2014—but we digress.)
In fact, this is the fourth time in 10 years that the $36.7 billion Harvard University endowment is looking for a new leader. Stephen Blyth, who was CEO for not quite a year and a half, has resigned effective immediately for personal reasons after having been absent since May on medical leave. In Blyth’s brief tenure in that position, he changed the endowment’s investment approach, and a number of high level staff left or were terminated.
Blyth will stay on at Harvard in a different capacity. “It has been a privilege to lead HMC, to work with such a talented team over the past decade, and to support an institution that makes a powerful impact in the world,” he said. “Harvard has played such a positive role in my life and, as I look forward to my next chapter, I am delighted to return to teaching and interacting with the students and faculty who remind all of us at HMC why the work that is done here is so important.”
Harvard spokesman Paul Andrew declined to comment on whether Blyth’s departure after a decade in various posts at the endowment was related to his medical leave or to the endowment’s continuing 7.6 percent underperformance relative to Yale’s 10 percent.
“We understand and support Stephen’s decision to step down for personal reasons,” the board said in yet one more bland statement. “We wish him well in his future endeavors and look forward to his continued contributions as Senior Advisor to the HMC Board.”
Charles Skorina, an executive recruiter in San Francisco says, “I think the board of the management company has concluded they need a different model, and therefore they need a different type of person.”
Skorina called Harvard’s four chiefs in ten years “simply unacceptable” and recommended the board go “en masse over to Seth Alexander’s office” at MIT’s endowment.
“Make him an offer he can’t refuse,” he said.—Ruth McCambridge