Executives at some of the nation's top investment firms donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the University of Michigan while the university invested as much as $4 billion in those companies' funds, a Detroit Free Press investigation found. More than $400 million of that amount was sent into funds managed by three alumni who advise the university on its investments. Critics worry Michigan’s approach of investing with some of its top donors, who also help guide the university's nearly $11-billion endowment, creates a conflict. Robert Jones, an MBA graduate from Michigan who helped lead Goldman Sachs Group's quantitative equity fund management unit before helping to found his own firm, is a member of U-M's Investment Advisory Committee, which advises the university's investment staff. Jones said in an interview last year his firm does not receive U-M investments. And he said he would worry about the appearance of a conflict of interest if his alma mater chose his firm. "Maybe it would look like I'm only on the committee to further my company, which is not the case," he said, adding, "it just never occurred to me to ask them" for an investment in his firm because he holds a position of influence. The committee Jones serves on is a group of wealthy donors — most of whom are alumni — who gather twice a year with a singular focus: growing Michigan's coffers. Thousands of miles from the Ann Arbor campus, the university's Investment Advisory Committee last May joined top university officials, including its chief financial officer, at dinner for 22 inside the historic bay-view home of San Francisco technology investor Sanford Robertson. The next morning, the group reconvened for a closed-door university briefing and strategy session inside the mahogany-furnished Muir Suite at the Four Seasons hotel. University of Michigan pours billions into funds run by contributors’ firms I think there is a conflict of interest here.