Press Release: Harvard Responds to Student Pressure by Creating Sustainable Investment Officer

HARVARD RESPONDS TO STUDENT PRESSURE BY CREATING SUSTAINABLE INVESTMENT OFFICER

Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition Applauds Step Toward Endowment Reform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, February 18, 2013
Contact: Mike Danto, mdanto@college.harvard.edu, (949)-233-1657

CAMBRIDGE, MA—Harvard Management Company, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Harvard University that manages Harvard’s endowment, will establish a new senior level position devoted to overseeing the environmental, social, and corporate governance-related aspects of the university’s investments.

“We expect that the new Vice President for Sustainable Investing will examine whether or not Harvard’s private equity and other holdings align with the University’s established policies, such as paying workers a living wage and promoting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” said Harvard College senior Mike Danto.

This is the latest in a series of moves by Harvard in response to student and alumni demands to manage the endowment more responsibly. On December 15, 2012, Harvard announced it will create a social choice fund on July 1, 2013 to benefit its financial aid programs. On February 2, 2013, members from the Harvard Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility met with students from two student groups advocating for sustainable investing.

On February 13, a Harvard Kennedy School referendum calling on Harvard to seed the new Social Choice Fund with 0.1% of the endowment received 93% of the vote. It was the first ever student-initiated referendum in the graduate school’s 77 year history.

“We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our peers,” Harvard Kennedy School Master in Public Policy Candidate Stephanie Cappa said. “Students have sent a clear message: Harvard’s endowment ought to be managed by the same principles of responsibility, service, and understanding that guide our research and education programs.”

Even though Harvard has taken these steps, it has yet to sign on to the UNPRI, an international standard for best practices in ESG analysis. Approximately $32 trillion dollars are managed by UNPRI signatories.

“We are thrilled to see the world’s wealthiest educational institution acknowledge the need to implement responsible investment practices,” Responsible Endowments Coalition Executive Director Dan Apfel said. “I expect to see a ripple effect around the country as other institutions follow suit to stay competitive.”

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