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Monday, November 29, 2021

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New CIO, Spider Management president joins UR

<p><em>Courtesy of Emily Butz</em></p>

Courtesy of Emily Butz

William McLean joined the University of Richmond on Jan. 1 as chief investment officer and president of UR's investment firm, Spider Management Company LLC, for a five-year appointment, according to a UR press release.

McLean, a chartered financial analyst (CFA), came to UR from Northwestern University, where he served as CIO and vice president for more than 18 years, he said. During McLean's career, Northwestern’s endowment grew from about $3.3 billion when he started in 2002 to around $10.9 billion as of Aug. 1, 2020, according to a Northwestern press release.

McLean previously served on UR's board of trustees and finance committee; he has also been on the board of Spider Management since 2012, he said. McLean was grateful to have known UR's investment team and portfolio before he started the position as CIO, he said, and had gotten to know the team before he officially began working in January.

“I have a strong feeling that the school is on an upward trajectory," McLean said. "I think the endowment has a key role, in that it’s something that distinguishes us from our peers and it’s helped us move up in the rankings."

McLean believes UR will advance its strong financial position further, he said.

UR's endowment, which is valued at $2.4 billion, is a collection of more than 1,400 individual endowments, including scholarship funds, professorships, lectureships, library and book funds and other gifted funds that support UR's operating budget, according to the UR Giving website as of Feb. 5. 

McLean, parent of two UR graduates, has a strong affection for UR, he said. McLean also has family in the city of Richmond and said he was glad to begin a new part of his more than 30-year-long financial career near his relatives.

"The school keeps getting better, and I can see that happening," McLean said. "It's awesome to be a part of that."

McLean began his career working for private foundations before transitioning into managing universities' endowments, he said.

McLean said the investment principles he would use to manage UR's endowment would reflect Spider Management's current practices, which include keeping a diversified portfolio and prioritizing long-term financial objectives when investing. McLean emphasized the importance of creating a positive culture and employing university-wide teamwork in endowment management. 

"It’s a big responsibility, and a lot of people are counting on us to do a good job and keep growing the endowment like [Spider Management has] in the past," he said.

McLean said UR's financial returns have been strong since the end of 2020. UR's endowment was slightly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but McLean said markets had begun to benefit from low interest rates instituted to combat economic hardships during the end of the year.

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“Every crisis is a little different, and this crisis is very unique," McLean said. 

He noted that, although UR's endowment was strong, the human impact of the pandemic was apparent on campus and he hoped that a return to normalcy would come soon.

Previous Spider Management President and Chief Investment Officer Rob Blandford now serves as Spider Management's chief executive officer, according to Spider Management’s website. Blandford had served as CIO since 2012 and will remain in his position as CEO until June 2022 to support the transition in leadership, according to UR's press release. 

McLean received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Davidson College and a master's degree in business from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, according to the UR press release.

Contact investigative editor Morgan Howland at morgan.howland@richmond.edu.

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