Harvard’s endowment just can’t get (or at least keep) good help anymore

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This just in from the W$J:

Mohamed El-Erian, head of the company that manages Harvard University’s $35 billion endowment, is resigning from that position to return to Pacific Investment Management Co.

Mr. El-Erian will start at Pimco in January as the Newport Beach, Ca.-based firm’s first co-Chief Investment Officer and Co-Chief Executive Officer. The move puts the high-profile investor in position to be heir apparent to Pimco CIO Bill Gross and Pimco CEO Bill Thompson. Mr. El-Erian headed the giant bond-fund manager’s emerging-markets fixed-income team prior to being hired to run Harvard’s endowment.

Mr. El-Erian’s surprise move comes barely a year and a half after he started at Harvard, which boasts the nation’s largest college endowment.

This after the hugely successful Jack Meyer and several of his top deputies bailed in 2005, in part because he was sick of getting so much flak from faculty about his big paychecks. El-Erian hadn’t gotten much flak so far, but he will presumably get a bigger paycheck, plus better surfing, out at Pimco. And Yale, where endowment-chief-for-life David Swensen is content making a mere $1 million or so a year, will keep laughing all the way to the bank.