DURHAM, N.C. — Thruston Morton, the chief investment officer at Duke University, is stepping down from that position at the end of the year.

Neal Triplett, who is the head of the hedge strategies group for Duke, will replace him.

Duke Management Company, or DUMAC, manages $7.5 billion in Duke investments, including its endowment and employees’ retirement plan.

Morton has served as DUMAC’s chief investment officer since 2000.

Triplett has led the hedge strategies group for six years.

While retiring from the Duke post, Morton is not leaving the field. He plans to launch his own investment firm.

Morton joined DUMAC after a 22-year career at J.P. Morgan and Company. He led J.P. Morgan’s special clients and multi-manager group before coming to Duke.

“It has been a true privilege to work for Duke and the DUMAC Board,” Morton said in a statement. “We accomplished a lot together over the past six years, most importantly building a top-notch investment and operations team and structuring a diversified, creative portfolio for Duke. The ship is in very good shape, and Neal is a highly talented individual who is going to make a great DUMAC president.”

In fiscal 2006, DUMAC reported a 20.2 percent return, ranking Duke third among the 50 largest college and university endowments.

“In a very real sense, the exceptional skill of Thruston Morton and the investment team he has led over the past six years has made possible the new programs and growth of the university, by providing the financial foundation that underlies our strategic ambitions,” Chancellor Richard Brodhead said in a statement. “DUMAC’s performance has been nothing less than spectacular, and Duke is a far stronger institution today as a result.”

Triplett worked at Wachovia Bank before joining DUMAC. He us a Duke graduate, and he earned his masters from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business in 1999.

DUMAC: http://www.dumac.duke.edu/