Mendelsohn tapped to run endowment

An Investments Office insider succeeds David Swensen.

Dan Renzetti

Dan Renzetti

New chief investment officer Matthew Mendelsohn ’07 has worked in the Investments Office for 14 years. View full image

As a Yale student, Matthew Mendelsohn ’07 wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He had majored in physics. Both his parents were educators and, early in his college years, Teach for America looked like a promising path after graduation. The Obama campaign emerged as another possibility. Then, while he was tending bar at a Berkeley Fellows holiday party, he met David Swensen ’80PhD, head of Yale’s Investments Office.The relationship developed. Mendelsohn was introduced to Swensen’s colleagues. “They were inspiring to be around—just kind, caring, brilliant people,” he says. “And that’s when the light switch flipped.”

Mendelsohn had always liked physics, but its strictly quantitative nature felt incomplete. He was equally interested in solving qualitative challenges, and he wanted a career where relationships and people were front and center. Yale’s endowment, he realized, provided both types of work, and did so in service of an organization he cared about. Mendelsohn had been on financial aid in college; this was a way to support the institution that had once supported him. He applied for a job in the office, and, when it was offered, took it.

A few years in, “I started to believe this could be a career,” he says, and with that belief came “ambitions to move up the ladder.” In August, those ambitions were realized, perhaps more fully than Mendelsohn might have originally believed, when he received a call from Yale president Peter Salovey ’86PhD informing him that he would be the university’s next chief investment officer.

It was, and remains, an emotionally complicated transition. The position became vacant when Swensen passed away from cancer in May. “He was one of the most important people in my life,” Mendelsohn says.

Mendelsohn does not anticipate any sudden breaks from the culture or strategies now in place. He sees his role as nurturing an organic evolution of a workplace that was deeply connected to Swensen’s decades of leadership. “My goal is to move forward in a way that would have made him proud and that does right by this institution that has put so much faith and trust in me.” 

The comment period has expired.