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U.Va.’s Investment Management Company Names New CEO to Oversee Endowment
 

Christopher BrightmanNovember 8, 2004

By Carol Wood

The University of Virginia Investment Management Co., which is responsible for overseeing investment of assets approaching $2.5 billion, has named a new CEO.

John O. Wynne, chairman of the UVIMCO board and a member of the University’s Board of Visitors, today announced the appointment of Christopher J. Brightman as the chief executive officer of UVIMCO.

Brightman, 43, currently the chief investment officer of Strategic Investment Group, a multi-manager global investment firm in Arlington, Va., replaces Alice W. Handy, UVIMCO’s former CEO, who retired in January.

At Strategic, Brightman supervised a team of more than 20 investment professionals and was responsible for approximately $9 billion in assets spread across several dozen external managers. He joins the University with a strong background in a number of critical areas including asset allocation and investment policy, evaluating and managing external managers, and directly managing money.

“Mr. Brightman comes to the University after an exhaustive nationwide search for someone with the right balance of skills to whom we can entrust the future of our endowment,” said University President John T. Casteen III. “There are few more critical jobs at the University today. Mr. Brightman’s proven track record as an investment strategist is impressive, and he has a firm understanding of the endowment’s importance to the current and future well being of the institution. We look forward to welcoming Mr. Brightman and his family to the University community.”

The endowment is the University’s source of sustainable private support for instruction, service, and research and is built through the gifts of donors dedicated to sustaining the growth and aspirations of the University. The endowment consistently ranks among the five largest endowments of public institutions and among the 30 largest of all colleges and universities in the nation.

As contributions from the Commonwealth of Virginia continued to decline over the past dozen years, endowment earnings have become an increasingly important factor in maintaining the University’s excellence. For the past two years, and for the first time in University history, income from the endowment exceeded the state appropriation to the University’s annual budget.

Brightman will be responsible for oversight of the approximately $2 billion endowment held by the University’s Board of Visitors as well as cash management for the University. He and his staff also will be responsible for management of certain endowment assets held by numerous University foundations. Together, they bring the investments under management by UVIMCO to almost $2.5 billion. The University’s total endowment, including the related foundations, approaches $2.9 billion.

Leonard W. Sandridge, the University’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, together with UVIMCO board members Thomas A. Saunders, A. Macdonald Caputo and Wynne, led the search for UVIMCO’s new CEO.

“We believe that under Chris Brightman’s leadership, and building on his excellent experience and record of results, the endowment and the UVIMCO staff will be in most capable hands as we begin to set out an aggressive agenda for the future,” Wynne said. “The search committee was committed to finding the very best person for this position, and we’re confident we’ve achieved that goal.

“Chris is a skilled investor — and a wonderful person.”

Brightman describes himself as a generalist — both from an investment perspective and a personal one. “I love an intellectual challenge and have a broad range of interests,” he said. “I like to know what’s going on in the world — in economics, public policy, technology, psychology, sociology, you name it — everything is relevant when you’re dealing with investment markets.”

Brightman was drawn to the opportunity to work for the University because it offers him the chance to be directly connected to touching people’s lives. “In the investment business you are sometimes a bit removed from the process of doing good for other people. In this job, I will be able to connect in direct and personal ways and to help further the goals and aspirations of a great institution like the University of Virginia. It’s a dream come true.”

Brightman believes that his past positions have positioned him well for taking over the University’s endowment. “I’ve spent much of my career being entrusted with managing other people’s money. I know what a solemn trust it is.”

Sandridge, who has been overseeing UVIMCO for the past 10 months, will be looking to Brightman to be both a good steward of the endowment and a good manager of the 11-member UVIMCO staff. “We have a strong, close-knit team in place ready to work with Chris,” Sandridge said. “They are eager for his new leadership and ready for the challenging work that lies ahead. The future health of the University is dependent on steady growth of the endowment.”

Brightman, who begins his tenure on Dec. 1, received a bachelor’s degree in finance from Virginia Tech in 1983 and an MBA from Loyola College in Baltimore in 1990. Before joining Strategic in 2001, he had a one-year stint with Greenwich Capital in Greenwich, Conn. That position was preceded by eight years as executive director and head of equity strategy and senior fixed income portfolio manager for UBS Asset Management/Brinson Partners Inc., in Chicago.

Brightman and his wife, Donna, have three children: Jon, 13; Amy, 15; and Lora, 17.

   
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