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Gilbert named chief investment officer

Peter M. Gilbert

Peter M. Gilbert, who has overseen investments and policy for the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System for the past 14 years, has been named chief investment officer for Lehigh University’s Endowment Fund.

Over the years, Lehigh’s Endowment Fund has grown to more than $1 billion, and is now the university’s second largest asset, behind only land and buildings. Over the past 25 years, the endowment has been overseen by a volunteer investment subcommittee of the university’s board of trustees.

Because of the size of the endowment and the increasing variety and complexity of investment vehicles, the Board’s investment subcommittee last year recommended to the finance committee and the board of trustees that the position of chief investment officer be created to ensure that the endowment’s investment management receives full-time attention and to maximize the performance of the endowment fund within appropriate risk parameters.

Gilbert, who as chief investment officer of the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System in Harrisburg oversaw the state’s $32 billion employees’ pension plan, was hired following a five-month national search. Gilbert starts at Lehigh on July 30, and will report to President Alice P. Gast and the Board of Trustee’s Investment Subcommittee.

“Under Peter Gilbert’s leadership, the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System has earned a well-deserved national reputation for innovation and performance,” Gast says. “The investment subcommittee has done a wonderful job as conscientious stewards of our endowment fund over the years. We are confident that Peter will maximize the fund’s performance to ensure that the contributions from so many Lehigh supporters help to build an even better Lehigh for future generations.”

Gilbert has worked for the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System since 1993, reporting directly to the board and managing an investment staff of 14 professionals as well as relationships with approximately 180 external managers, advisors, and consultants. In 2004, the state pension fund was selected by Money Management Letter as the Large Public Plan of the Year for the diversification of its portfolio.

Gilbert has been recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award by Money Management Letter in 2007; the Excellence in Investment Management Award by Institutional Investor in 2005; The Richard L. Stoddard Award by the National Association of State Investment Officers in 2004; and the CIO of the Year Award by the Institute for Fiduciary Education in 1997.

Before overseeing the Pennsylvania employees pension plan, Gilbert was director of the Mayor’s Pension Unit in the City of New York’s Department of Finance from 1990-1993, and previously worked for a decade in the City of New York’s Office of the Comptroller.

Gilbert, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Wesleyan University in Connecticut in 1969 and a master’s in social work from Columbia University in New York in 1976, worked for non-profit and public social service agencies in the 1970s.

Russell Reynolds & Associates search firm conducted the search. Gilbert, as a final candidate, was also interviewed by the University Faculty Personnel Committee and Professor Jim Greenleaf, from the College of Business and Economics, as well as Frank Ingrassia, Finance Committee Chair.

The search committee was co-chaired by the Board of Trustees Investment Subcommittee Chair R. Charles Tschampion and Associate Vice President of Finance Denise Blew. Search Committee members included Trustees Maria Chrin, Kevin Clayton, John Glanville, Marc Paley; Investment Subcommittee members Art Greenwood, Michael Hoben, Jack McGowan, Kevin Parke; and Vice President of Finance and Administration Margaret Plympton.

--Jack Croft

Posted on Thursday, May 31, 2007

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