Vassar Trustees Approve Investment Policy Changes Aimed at Combating Climate Change
Marking a major milestone in Vassar College’s overall strategy and commitment to protecting the environment, the Board of Trustees has ramped-up its ongoing efforts to address climate change by amending its investment policy to explicitly include environmental and sustainability considerations. The Board further noted that Vassar does not have any direct investments in fossil fuels, and does not plan to make any in the future. The policy, adopted by a unanimous vote of the board on October 15, also explicitly directs its financial managers to evaluate environmental, social and governance considerations in the selection of underlying managers. The Trustees further expressed their commitment to consider investments that support a transition to a green economy.
“As stewards of the college, we have long recognized that climate change is an existential crisis and have been committed to combating it in the most effective ways possible,” Board Chair Anthony J. Friscia said following the vote. “Today’s decision reflects our continued commitment to addressing the climate crisis. Just as we’ve been reducing our own reliance on fossil fuels through upgrades to our campus buildings, we are amplifying our impact far beyond campus by integrating support for the green economy into our investment strategy.”
Friscia said the board’s decision not only addresses concerns about threats to the environment but makes good fiscal sense as well. “We see an explicit evaluation of environmental, social, and governance considerations as critical to ensuring the potential for strong longer-term returns as the economy transitions to renewable energy, and we continue to evaluate potential investments in this area,” he said.
The College’s ongoing efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels throughout campus has resulted in significant progress toward its goal of carbon neutrality by 2030, Friscia noted. “We are proud to already be more than halfway to our goal,” he said.
President Elizabeth H. Bradley lauded the board’s new investment policy, noting it is consistent with the goals and initiatives the College has put in place to address the climate emergency. “Today would not be possible without the phenomenal work of many people and groups across the College, including the Campus Investor Responsibility Committee, the Climate Action & Sustainability Committee, the Vassar Student Association, Students for Equitable Environmental Decisions (SEED), and the Office of Sustainability,” Bradley said.
Friscia said he and his fellow trustees were proud of ongoing changes in the curriculum that reflect the College’s dedication to educating people who can think creatively to address real world problems in new ways. Recent examples include: Vassar’s multidisciplinary program in Environmental Studies, the Environmental Research Institute, and the Environmental Cooperative, initiatives that explore the relationships between people and their environment through research, public outreach, and programs for the community; and the Jill Troy Werner '’71 Endowment for Research and Teaching on Climate Change and Sustainability, which funds new multidisciplinary courses on issues related to climate change, conferences on climate change; field-based research and senior thesis research projects on climate change.
“We are addressing this most crucial global challenge to ensure that our climate can continue to support future generations without compromising our fundamental fiduciary responsibility to ensure that access to a Vassar education is available to a diverse student body in perpetuity,” Friscia concluded.
Read the full statement detailing the policy change.