(May 18, 2020) The Texas A&M Foundation publicly announced today the hire of Michael Pia, who assumed the role of chief investment officer on May 1. Pia will lead the Foundation’s investment staff and help drive critical decisions for the success of the Foundation’s long-term investment pool benefiting Texas A&M University.
Preng & Associates assisted The Texas A&M Foundation in its search.
The hiring of Pia comes at an important time as the Foundation investment team seeks to implement forward-thinking endowment management strategies throughout and beyond the period of market volatility during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Foundation officials.
Pia comes to the Foundation from the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) of Texas, where he most recently served as managing director of Strategic Partnerships & Research for its Investment Management Division (IMD), overseeing approximately 10 percent of the TRS Trust’s assets. He also served as chairman of the IMD’s Management Committee and as a voting member of its Internal Investment Committee. Previously, he worked as chief of staff to the TRS chief investment officer, coordinating and ensuring execution of his division’s internal and external executive-level initiatives across the Trust. Since 2015, Pia led a nine-person investment team that managed $15 billion in assets and six of the Trust’s largest relationships.
“I am very excited to join the Texas A&M Foundation, an organization with a culture and values that align closely with mine,” Pia said. “I am inspired by its work to build a brighter future for Texas A&M University so that Aggieland can continue to develop future leaders for Texas and our nation. My role as chief investment officer represents an opportunity to continue a lifetime of service, and I am highly motivated to make a significant and lasting impact on the Foundation and university.”
The Foundation’s executive leadership pointed to Pia’s lengthy track record of principled investment performance, as well as his leadership and technical skills honed over the last 30 years. “The Board of Trustees fully supports Mike’s hire,” said Otway Denny Jr. ’71, chairman of the Foundation’s board. “We believe we have recruited the best possible candidate to help us achieve our goals for the Texas A&M Foundation’s long-term investment pool.”
Prior to TRS, Pia served in the United States Marine Corps on active duty for 11 years and worked as a software/systems engineer for Lockheed Martin. In addition to holding certificates in financial analysis and alternative investment analysis, Pia holds an MBA from Texas Christian University, an M.S. in software engineering from the University of West Florida and a B.S. in mechanical engineering With Distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy. He is married and has two daughters.
“Mike has a great track record and unlimited potential. He has service in his DNA,” said Tyson Voelkel ’96, president of the Texas A&M Foundation. “Mike has the character, discipline and drive to think and act in the long-term best interests of the endowment. He believes in the power of higher education, and I know he will be a great partner as we evolve our capabilities and performance.”
As chief investment officer, Pia will supervise and guide the Foundation investment team to continually build and manage a portfolio that can perpetually meet the current and future needs of Texas A&M. He will play a crucial role in maintaining a diversified and resilient investment portfolio built to withstand severe market instability, such as the recent financial crisis that has occurred amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our number one priority is the prudent management of the long-term investment pool for the Texas A&M Foundation,” said Lou Paletta ’78, a member of the Board of Trustees and chairman of the Foundation’s Investment Committee. “Mike Pia is the right leader at the right time to partner with our CEO as they manage the endowment for the long-term benefit of Texas A&M University.”
The Foundation’s endowed funds, which come from private donors, are fundamental to ensuring Texas A&M’s future. These funds, all donated with philanthropic intent, are specifically directed toward programs, projects or initiatives in conjunction with the university’s academic partners. Distributions from the endowment annually fund scholarships, graduate fellowships, private research, student activities, college programs and capital construction.
Investment staff at the Foundation prioritize effective diversification and systematic oversight over the long-term to ensure that endowment funds are well managed and uniquely poised to weather the ups and downs of market volatilities, said Foundation officials. Historically, the long-term investment pool has been well-poised to recover from a number of financial downturns and continues to annually provide funds to Texas A&M even in tough economic times.
Voelkel went on to state, “Under Pia’s leadership of the investment team, we will continue to ensure that endowed donors’ gifts through the Texas A&M Foundation will be professionally invested for the benefit of Texas A&M’s students, faculty and staff for the coming decades.”
Texas A&M Foundation
The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that aspires to be among the most trusted philanthropies in higher education. It builds a brighter future for Texas A&M University, one relationship at a time. To learn more, visit txamfoundation.com.