Timothy Recker has stepped down as head of private equity and real assets at the University of California Regents, which manages around $91 billion in endowment, retirement and cash assets, in order to join The James Irvine Foundation as chief investment officer

Recker’s final day at UC Regents will be this Friday, after which he plans to take a month off before joining the San Francisco-based nonprofit foundation. He had joined UC Regents more than nine years ago after having led alternative investments for the Michigan Retirement System, before which he spent time at GE Capital. Recker also serves on the board of Duff & Phelps, and once served as chairman of the Institutional Limited Partners Association (ILPA), a trade group whose global members represent over $1 trillion in alternative assets.

He’s now heading to an organization that is much smaller (just over $2 billion in AUM), but one known for its large exposure to the alternative asset class where Recker has made his mark. It currently has a 30% target allocation to such investments, but its actual exposure is above 40% because of strong recent performance (including on paper, due to the “unicorn” phenomenon).

“One of my core issues will be managing unicorn exposure,” Recker explains. “Not only because of the valuation risks, but because Irvine has a 5.5% payout for grant-making each year, so those high valuations mean actual cash out the door for us — which is an issue that a lot of organizations with strong VC portfolios are dealing with.”


Recker also expects to deal with a much broader low-return environment, and says that he’s excited to reacquaint himself with certain VC and private equity firms that had eschewed UC Regents investments because of public transparency (some of which became the subject of lawsuits).

He adds that UC Regents is likely to hire an outside recruiter to find his replacement.