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Janna Bersi Strengthens Chapman’s Financial Future She serves as the first vice president of investments and administration also serves the global higher education community.

As Chapman University’s first vice president of investments and administration, Janna Bersi has already applied her expertise on campus and beyond – even across the globe.

janet bersi headshot

Bersi, who was appointed to her post in July 2019, led a Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC – pronounced WASC) five-member team to India in late September to evaluate Amity University. WSCUC accredits higher education institutions in California, Hawaii and some around the world.

“It’s a lot of work and it’s grueling, but it’s also very prestigious … it’s a very high level of responsibility to serve on a WSCUC accreditation team,” Bersi says.

Bersi, who earned her doctorate in organizational leadership from Pepperdine University, got involved with WSCUC 13 years ago. She was a commissioner, chaired different committees, and has served on several accreditation visit teams. She also served on the board of Western Association of College and University Business Officers and chaired two of its committees.

That’s all in addition to her role at Chapman, in which she manages the university’s endowment and investments. Although she has been in her current position for a few years, she first came to Chapman in 2006 to serve as vice president of finance and CFO.

She brought with her a broad range of financial and management experience from working at the foundation of her alma mater, California State University, Long Beach. She was at Chapman for three years, then went to California State University, Dominguez Hills, where she was responsible for a $90 million academic affairs budget.

When the Great Recession hit, she and her colleagues had to figure out how to manage a university significantly reduced by the state in 2009.

“You really have to understand all of the intricacies of the academy and its operations and work with a lot of different people to negotiate and get things accomplished,” says Bersi, who also taught as a tenured professor at the graduate level at Dominguez Hills.


Chapman recruited her to return and start the investment office after the Board of Trustees voted in December 2018 to make the growth of Chapman’s endowment a major strategic priority. The endowment’s market value at the time was just below $400 million. The endowment initiative was undertaken because a study of peer institutions showed that it is prudent to have internal management of endowment operations once the endowment reaches $500 million, Bersi says.

That goal was surpassed in 2020-21, and today the endowment stands at over $600 million.

“As the Chapman endowment grew, it was necessary to establish our investment office and to form a team exclusively devoted to managing our endowment,” says Trustee Jim Burra, who chairs the Board Investment Committee. “We were fortunate to recruit Janna Bersi. She established the office, built the management systems and hired an outstanding staff.

“Janna’s foresight allows Chapman to handle significant growth in the endowment. As a trustee and chairman of the Investment Committee, I am confident that Janna will continue her outstanding efforts in the pursuit of our ambitious goals,” he says.

In February 2019, the National Association of College and University Business Officers reported that Chapman’s endowment was the third-fastest growing private university endowment in the nation. Bersi is quick to share credit for the accomplishment.

“It will take and does take a village,” she says. “It’s an extraordinary effort on behalf of the university and in particular its Board of Trustees and leadership.”

Another “village” effort Bersi is part of is Chapman’s new strategic plan, which sets an ambitious $2 billion endowment goal for 2037.

“Why would we strive for such an audacious target? Because Chapman, in rising to national rankings, is competing with a new pool of peer institutions – most of which are heavily endowed,” she says. “Not only will we be better positioned to compete, but a significantly larger endowment will provide for the very long-term support of academic programs and research that we do not currently have.”

“Generations of students will benefit from the support that our efforts today will establish.”


Janna Bersi visits Amity University in India in September 2022 with WSCUC.


Janna Bersi visits Amity University in India in September 2022 with WSCUC.


Janna Bersi visits Amity University in India in September 2022 with WSCUC.


Janna Bersi visits Amity University in India in September 2022 with WSCUC.

Joy Juedes