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UW Foundation names chief investment officer

October 13, 2009

Tom Olson has been selected as the new chief investment officer for the University of Wisconsin Foundation.

Olson, a UW–Madison alumnus who has been with the UW Foundation since 2005, succeeds David Erickson, who left to become chief investment officer for Ascension Health, a hospital conglomerate with home offices in St. Louis.

“Tom’s skills in the private equity area, combined with the leadership he has demonstrated in all elements of our investment portfolio, made this an easy choice,” says UW Foundation president Sandy Wilcox.

Prior to his current position, Olson was a director of investments at the UW Foundation. He spent seven years working for the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, where he managed the private equity portfolio.

At the end of 2008, the UW Foundation had total assets under management of $2.274 billion; contributions, including pledges receivable, of $161 million for the year; and more than $203 million in support transferred to or for the benefit of the University of Wisconsin.

“It’s definitely a challenge,” Olson says of his new position. “Being considered on the deal front for most of my career, moving into the role of chief investment officer brings a different level of skill. But it’s a natural progression.

“Being here, in an intimate investment shop, we are not so specific in our duties,” Olson adds. “We worked together to design a portfolio, and it’s really a collaborative effort. It’s more organizing the thoughts of everyone instead of just bringing my thoughts to the table.”

Olson says that, as a UW–Madison alumnus, he is proud to work in support of his alma mater. “We have a sound operation in place, and it is so gratifying to be managing funds on behalf of the institution from which I graduated,” he said.

Established in 1945, the UW Foundation is the official fundraising and gift-receiving organization for UW–Madison.