Tufts and Bernard Madoff

Along with every alumni of Tufts University, I received the following email yesterday.  The email raises many simple questions, such as: why does the President of Tufts not follow simple capitalization rules and capitalize the word University?  Or, why is the University's endowment so small?  But, it also raises a host of much more troubling issues about a heard mentality that involved blindly chasing returns.  Particularly, how could so much of the University's money be placed with a single fund without simple due diligence that would have uncovered the fact that Madoff's accountants weren't real?  Seems like a lot of money was blindly thrown in one man's direction without the simplest investigation by any investors.

December 19, 2008

Dear Friends:

I have promised to keep you informed when the economic news of these extraordinary times has special significance for Tufts. The news this past week has been dominated by a financial scandal of unprecedented scale and scope. I am sorry to report that Tufts is one of a growing number of victims of the crimes allegedly committed by Bernard Madoff.

In 2005, the university’s Investment Committee authorized an investment with Ascot Partners, which in turn invested the entire sum with Madoff Securities. We have written off the value of this investment, which totaled $20 million, or slightly less than 2 percent of our endowment. This write-off will not significantly affect our operations. We will cooperate with any investigations of this fraud and will work to recoup as much of our investment as possible.

It is personally painful for me to communicate this information to you. We deeply appreciate the trust and confidence that each donor places in the university. We also have an obligation to our students and faculty to manage these resources wisely for their benefit. You have my word that we will look closely at our experience in this case so that we can strengthen our investment process for the future.

I will continue to keep you informed as we work our way through these difficult times. For now, I send all the members of the Tufts community my very best wishes for the holiday season ahead.


Lawrence S. Bacow

Ari Socolow
Ari Socolow: Ari Socolow is the Chief Economist and Editor-in-Chief at BestCashCow. He is particularly interested in issues relating to financial literacy and bank transparency. Since co-founding this website in 2005, Ari has been frequently cited in the media as an expert on local and national savings accounts, CD products, mortgage and loan products and credit card rewards products.

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  • Rubinstein

    December 22, 2008

    I have been terribly upset to see that many organizations that I have supported with my money and my time have done irreparable damage to themselves by allowing their money to be invested with this crook without the slightest due diligence.

  • Sad

    December 22, 2008

    Here's a list of all the other known charities, banks, and individuals who lost money. It's very sad. Whole charities have been wiped out:


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