Dear Western friends,
With the topic of climate change featuring so prominently across international conversations, it’s natural that we at Western have had thoughtful, ongoing discussions around these issues.
Most recently, the WWU Foundation Governing Board has been weighing a request from the Associated Students Board around divestment from fossil fuels, and I’d like to take this opportunity to share the process and outcome with you.
The Associated Students request had three elements: (1) freeze future investments in fossil fuels, (2) divest from current investments in 200 specific companies over the next five years and (3) incorporate divestment from fossil fuels into the investment policy. Over the past four months, the Foundation Governing Board gave careful consideration to all aspects of the request; Board members consulted with students, campus colleagues and peers across the country, researched investment alternatives and reached a clear and considered conclusion. The final decision, voted on during the Board’s quarterly meeting on September 16, was to reject the request on the grounds that divestment is not consistent with the Foundation’s mission: by inspiring our community to give, the WWU Foundation secures and stewards resources to advance scholarship, research and creativity. It is in what the Foundation is able to fund, not how it invests, that most tangibly advances Western’s mission and delivers on its own mission.
Given the interests of our stakeholders, the Foundation decided to pursue the creation of a climate-friendly investment fund as an option for future donors. And, to lower associated fees, WWU Foundation Governing Board members and staff will lead discussions of climate-friendly portfolio development with other foundations of our size and type. You can find the specific recommendations here.
The WWU Foundation Governing Board admires and appreciates the time and effort that the Associated Students Board of Directors and all Western students have put into this process. WWU Foundation Governing Board members are proud of their success in raising private resources and are poised to continue funding University priorities for proactive research projects and programs – including the Institute for Energy Studies – that are already addressing the challenges of climate change. For more information, please read President Bruce Shepard’s current blog post commenting on Western’s stand as an environmentally-focused institution.