MIDDLEBURY, Vt — Middlebury’s endowment generated a negative investment return in the fiscal year that ended June 30 for only the third time in the past 12 years and the first time since 2009. This year’s annual return was -4.5 percent.

The performance took place in a year that produced negative returns for most college and university endowments. Weakness in international equity markets, lagging performance in healthcare, energy, and financial stocks, and a near-zero interest rate environment all contributed to a difficult investment climate.

Middlebury’s endowment is managed by Investure, a firm based in Charlottesville, Virginia. Investure manages the endowments—with a total value of $13 billion—of 15 colleges and foundations and one family trust. Investure began managing the Middlebury endowment on May 31, 2005.

The annualized returns for the Middlebury endowment over the past three, five and 10 years are 5.9 percent, 7.0 percent and 7.0 percent respectively. Over that time, annual returns have ranged from 21.2 percent in 2007 to -15.9 percent in 2009. Five of the last 10 years have seen returns of 14.8 percent or higher.

“Middlebury manages our endowment with an eye to long-term returns and growth,” said Middlebury Vice President for Finance Mike Thomas. “The endowment is intended to exist in perpetuity, and while we and Investure carefully watch year-to-year performance and make adjustments accordingly, our focus is always on the long term.

On June 30, the value of Middlebury’s endowment was just over $1 billion. The endowment consists of hundreds of restricted and unrestricted endowed funds. Restricted endowed funds may be used only in the manner stipulated by the donor. Unrestricted endowments may be used in any way the institution deems necessary. More than 75 percent of the endowment is restricted.

In fiscal year 2016 the annual payout from the endowment contributed $64.7 million toward Middlebury’s $339.8 million in operating expenditures, inclusive of financial aid.

The Middlebury endowment supports all of Middlebury’s schools, including the undergraduate College, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Middlebury Language Schools, Schools Abroad, Bread Loaf School of English, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences, and School of the Environment.