The three largest public universities have a total of more than $2.7 billion in investments through their respective endowments. Much of this money is currently tied up in domestic equity funds. Think of equity funds like giant mutual funds for big institutional investors.
Over the last few years, many universities have suffered from instability in financial markets. Purdue lost a substantial sum on investments into the now toxic mortgage backed securities market. Indiana University lost about $300 million on speculation into the stock market back in 2009.
Officials with the IU Foundation, Indiana Universities endowment, say they expect to see many universities turning towards real assets like equipment and land as a hedge against risk in the financial market.