Endowments at Harvard and Yale universities and other major schools have had sophisticated investment strategies that led to substantial profits -- before the financial crisis, that is. Smaller colleges' endowments with much simpler strategies are outperforming their larger rivals. "A lesson from this crisis is that following what the larger guys have done is not necessarily [a] road map to success," said Daniel Jick, head of HighVista Strategies, which manages endowment money for smaller schools.

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