Grinnell College appoints new chief investment officer

Jainen Thayer was selected from a field of highly qualified candidates

Following an extensive national search process Jainen “J.T.” Thayer is going to be the College's next chief investment officer (CIO).

Thayer comes to Grinnell from the Oberlin College Investment Office in New York City, where he served as CIO. Prior to his leadership role at Oberlin, he held senior investment positions at the New York University Investment Office and Fortress Investment Group. He begins work at Grinnell in mid-September, following his relocation from New York City.

“Jainen Thayer’s experience with leading investment operations at a liberal arts institution and his deep expertise in the field will serve Grinnell well,” says Grinnell College President Raynard S. Kington. “He brings an extensive investment and financial analysis knowledge base to our strategic priority of ensuring financial sustainability. The Board of Trustees Investment Committee and I are grateful to have him on board to provide leadership to this important area of the college.”

Thayer will oversee the Grinnell investment office and staff with responsibility for managing assets held in the college’s endowment, which was valued at more than $1.87 billion at the end of fiscal year 2017.

In addition to monitoring positions held currently, his team will evaluate investment themes and strategies globally, across all asset classes. He will work closely with the Board of Trustees and the administration to ensure effective oversight and management of the college’s financial assets and provide strategic leadership for the endowment.

During the college’s search for a permanent CIO, David Clay, who had previously served as Grinnell’s treasurer, and then as CIO through 2013, served as interim CIO.

“I am pleased to have been selected to lead the staff of the Grinnell College Investment Office,” Thayer says. “It is an honor to join this storied institution to manage an endowment with such a unique legacy of historical success. I will be building on a strong foundation and look forward to the work ahead. I am also looking forward to becoming a part of the Grinnell community.”

Thayer has spent more than 20 years as a professional in the finance industry, including experience building and managing investment portfolios for higher education institutions.

Under Thayer’s leadership, Oberlin’s investment portfolio generated an annual return of 8.3 percent and the market value of the endowment grew from $672 million to $872 million (through April 2018), making it among the best performing endowments nationally for the one-year period ending March 2018. In addition to reshaping the investment portfolio, Thayer also established a comprehensive investment process, and oversaw the development of the Impact Investment Platform.

Thayer received his bachelor's degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and earned a Master of Business Administration from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He is a CFA charter holder, which is a professional designation given by the CFA Institute that measures the competence and integrity of financial analysts. Candidates are required to meet specialized education and professional experience requirements, and to pass three levels of exams. The CFA charter is one of the most respected designations in finance and is widely considered to be the gold standard in the field of investment analysis.

About Grinnell College
Since its founding in 1846, Grinnell has become one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges, enrolling 1,700 students from all 50 states and 44 countries. Grinnell's rigorous academic program emphasizes excellence in education for students in the liberal arts; the college offers the B.A. degree in a range of departments across the humanities, arts and sciences. Grinnell has a strong tradition of social responsibility and action, and self-governance and personal responsibility are key components of campus life. More information about Grinnell College is available at