Thayer Named New Chief Investment Officer

Following a national search process, Jainen “JT” Thayer has been selected to be Grinnell’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. He will begin work in mid-September, following his relocation from New York City.

“Jainen’s experience with leading investment operations at a liberal arts institution and his deep expertise in the field will serve Grinnell well,” says Raynard S. Kington, president. “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, valued at more than $1.87 billion as of the Fiscal Year 2017 audited financial statement. In addition to monitoring positions held currently, his team will evaluate investment themes and strategies globally, across all asset classes. He will work 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.

“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 more than 20 years as a professional in the finance industry, including experience building and managing investment portfolios for higher education institutions. Prior to Oberlin, he held senior investment positions at the New York University Investment Office and Fortress Investment Group.

Under Thayer’s leadership, Oberlin’s investment portfolio generated an annual return of 8.3 percent. 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 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, a designation given by the CFA Institute that is considered the gold standard in the field of investment analysis.

During the College’s search for a permanent CIO, David Clay, previously Grinnell’s treasurer and then CIO through 2013, served as interim chief investment officer. “We appreciate David’s willingness to return to full-time service as interim chief investment officer during our search for a permanent CIO,” Kington says. “David’s deep knowledge of our investment work and our partners has been invaluable during this period, and we thank him for his special efforts.”

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