Boston University’s Board of Trustees plans to use the financial expertise of its newest member, the chief investment officer of Fidelity Group, to boost the university’s endowment fund.
Philip Bullen, who oversees the investments of large-scale industrial companies at one of the largest mutual fund companies in the country, began working as a nontrustee member of the Trustees’ Investment Committee in December 2005 in which he helped manage BU’s investment and venture capital portfolios.
“He’s been a superb addition to that committee, as the budget has been balanced, so we thought he would make an outstanding Trustee,” said Board Chairman Alan Leventhal.
The Trustees’ Nominating and Governance Committee recommended Bullen, a graduate of London’s City University Business School and senior vice president at Fidelity, for membership. The Trustees approve the administration’s plans and policies from a budgetary standpoint, said Faculty Council Chairman Julie Sandell.
“The Nominating and Governance Committee looks for potential board members who can add to the diversity of the Board and further the goals of the university,” Leventhal said.
Bullen and other money managers on the Investment Committee will handle BU’s endowment, investing in stocks and bonds intended to maximize returns, said School of Management professor Fred Foulkes.
“Philip Bullen is a very accomplished corporate executive with deep knowledge of the investment world,” said President Robert Brown, the administration’s liaison to the Board, in an email. “Mr. Bullen adds greatly to the strength of our Board.”
Bullen declined to comment on his appointment through a spokesperson.
Because of his ties to Fidelity, Bullen will not be allowed to recommend that the Board invest the endowment in Fidelity products, Foulkes said.
“It would be a conflict of interest if suddenly [the Board of Trustees] puts all the money in Fidelity funds,” he said.
The Trustees’ Audit Committee monitors such activity, administering BU’s code of conduct and conflict of interest policies.
“The Board has a rigorous set of conflict of interest policies,” Brown said. “Board members recuse themselves from discussions where they are conflicted because of their business associations.”
Before joining Fidelity in May 2000, Bullen was CEO and co-founder of Santander Global Advisors in Boston and CEO of Baring Asset Management Inc.
“Given his position at Fidelity, [Bullen] is extremely knowledgeable of investment strategies and investing money,” Sandell said. “That’s where he’ll contribute.”
Like Bullen, the other 35 members of the Trustees are distinguished in their chosen fields, which range from banking and real estate to medicine and theology.
“The Board looks to have a broad set of expertise in business, government and higher education, among other areas,” Brown said.
In addition to being experts in their respective fields, Sandell said a candidate for membership on the Board must have “a real interest in Boston University” to be elected for a term of one to three years.
“A Trustee should be someone who cares about the university deeply and can, through their background and experiences, add to the life of the university,” Leventhal said. “These are all things that Philip Bullen can do.”