.@Swarthmore College, @Columbia University, AND @BowdoinCollege Announce #Divestment Today!
Happy Fossil Fools Day! Unfortunately, none of these three colleges have agreed to take sensible steps towards divesting or responsible investment... yet. Want to shine light on your campus' commitment to divestment, or lack thereof Email [email protected]
Divestment momentum explodes today as THREE universities, Columbia University, Swarthmore College, and Bowdoin College, all announce plans to divest and Bowdoin pledges to take further steps on responsible investment.
After a recent meeting of the Board of Trustees’ Columbia University has decided that investments in fossil fuels anathema to the institution’s mission and sustainability plan. Bowdoin College, one of the nation’s most prestigious liberal arts colleges, has announced that they will soon be releasing a plan to that will make their $900 million endowment the most responsible and sustainable in the country. Swarthmore College’s newspaper reported on their divestment.
These announcements are part of a recent trend towards responsible investment by colleges and universities around the country, but particularly in Maine. Only recently, Unity College announced that it would divest from fossil fuels, and Harvard University, which has the largest endowment in the world, at over $30 billion, announced that they would hire a Vice President for Sustainable Investing.
According to President Lee Bollinger, “Columbia University is proud of our recent STARS gold rating. The Trustees wanted to ensure that our endowment of over $7.5 billion is invested in line with the environmental principles that we take so seriously.”
Bowdoin College, located in the small town of Brunswick, Maine, has similarly announced the importance of their sustainability focus to their endowment. Bowdoin, which has plans to be carbon neutral by 2020, and a broad range of faculty expertise on sustainability and climate change, decided that the endowment needed to be keeping pace with the rest of the campus initiatives. Bowdoin’s plans come as a surprise to students and alumni, because just recently, President Barry Mills made a statement to the Bowdoin Orient decrying divestment.
According to Mr. Mills, the time was right to take action. “We spent the last few months looking into divestment and possible courses of action. While we have determined that the school should not make a statement of divestment from fossil fuels we will shortly release a process that I believe will have that as one of its end result.”
The statement provided says that Bowdoin College will:
Sign the UN Principles for Responsible Investment & Join the Carbon Disclosure Project immediately
Convene a series of town hall discussions between now and the end of the calendar year with responsible investment experts, students, faculty, and alumni, to discuss the purpose of Bowdoin’s endowment
Analyze the College community’s top priorities and assess the best ways to deal with those issues in the endowment through a variety of different measures
Integrate the financial risks from environmental and social issues like climate change into investment decisions
According to Senior Vice President for Investments Paula Volent, “this will not happen all at once. The Trustees have decided that we must fulfill our responsibility to our students’ future. To make this process as educational process as possible, we plan to disclose our investments to the college community, starting at the beginning of the next fiscal year. Let me be clear: we believe that over the next decade we will outperform because of this decision.”
Student and responsible investment expert Kate Johnson from Hampshire College explained “we are so gratified that Bowdoin College is planning on following Hampshire’s lead and taking responsible investment seriously--leading all higher education institutions.”