Harvard University's multibillion dollar endowment is adopting a strategy of selling off some holdings in hedge funds, private-equity firms and other money managers to bring more money under the control of internal investing staff over the next few years, the Wall Street Journal said.

Jane Mendillo, head of Harvard endowment, told the paper the university's move would allow it to be more nimble, have better transparency into the portfolio and more liquidity.

Harvard, like other university endowments, suffered during the economic downturn. The Ivy League school's endowment had shrunk about 22 percent to about $29 billion during the first four months of its previous fiscal year.

The endowment aims to be an active buyer and seller of private equity in the secondary market, the paper quoted Mendillo as saying.

Mendillo said she was working to reduce the endowment's overall exposure to private equity, which can have long lockup periods, be highly illiquid and require periodic cash injections.

Earlier this year, Harvard said it would lay off about one-quarter of its investment management staff.

(Reporting by S. John Tilak in Bangalore; Editing by Valerie Lee)