To: The Wellesley Community
From: Debby Kuenstner, Chief Investment Officer
Re: Action on Fossil Fuel Investments
Date: November 26, 2019
Over the past few weeks, several groups of faculty, along with students from Renew Wellesley, have made statements urging the College to take action related to its investments in fossil fuels. This is an important topic and one that the Investment Office is currently working on. I want to share that work with you, and also go over how the community can most effectively engage in the decision-making process.
Climate change has wide-ranging implications for the College endowment’s portfolio. This year, the College’s Investment Office is conducting a broad assessment of the many ways climate change could impact the portfolio over the next 15 to 20 years. The role of energy investments—both fossil fuel and renewables—in the portfolio is a key area we will be analyzing. Changing the College’s energy investment strategy has financial implications that need to be carefully evaluated. Ultimately, the decision is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees. The Investment Office is in the midst of work that will help inform that decision-making next spring.
The most effective way for members of the community to be part of this decision-making process is to make a request to the Subcommittee on Investment Responsibility (SIR). SIR is part of the Board of Trustees governance structure and is a subcommittee of the Board Investment Committee. It is composed of trustees, faculty, staff, and students, and is responsible for proxy voting and making recommendations to the Investment Committee related to shareholder responsibility.
Based on the statements that have already been shared by faculty and students, SIR has decided to take up this important topic at its February meeting. Community members who want to make their voices heard on this issue should submit a proposal to SIR that makes clear the actions they want taken and their argument for doing so. Please review the Policy Statement of the Subcommittee on Investment Responsibility for guidance regarding issues to address in a proposal.
The authors of proposals received by January 27 will be invited to present to SIR at its next meeting, which will take place here at Wellesley in early February. SIR will consider those proposals at that meeting and make a recommendation to the Investment Committee regarding Wellesley’s energy investment. If the Investment Committee decides to take action, it would make a recommendation that would be voted on by the full board in late April 2020.
This is an important conversation, and we want to ensure that members of our community who have strong views on the topic are part of it. If you have any questions about the process, please feel free to contact me.