July 10, 2017

Trustees Exploring Fossil-Fuel Divestment

Lewis & Clark’s Investment Committee has convened a subcommittee to explore implementing a fossil-fuel divestment plan for the endowment.

Lewis & Clark is committed to learning, innovation, and principled action on matters related to sustainability. Aligning our investments with our intentions is integral to those commitments. At the Investment Committee meeting in May, Lewis & Clark’ Board of Trustees received a petition from students and faculty calling for the endowment to divest from fossil fuel investments. In response to the petition, and in keeping with the college’s commitment to ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) investing, the committee has appointed a subcommittee to explore the development of a divestment policy.

“I commend the students, faculty, and staff who’ve advocated for this move, and the trustees for giving this issue its due attention,” said Interim President David Ellis. “We’re going to get this right, live up to our reputation as collaborative, environmental educators and contribute to the global effort to combat climate change.”

Guided by best practices from MSCI, the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investing (UNPRI), and examples from the Intentional Endowments Network, Trustee and finance expert Amy Miller BA ’80 will chair the subcommittee. Board chair Scott Dubchansky will serve on the subcommittee alongside trustees Patrick Nielson and Steven Dover BA ’83. Faculty will be represented by Lewis & Clark environmental Professor of Law Dan Rohlf. And Lewis & Clark senior Asher Kalman ’18, who has chaired the Socially Responsible Investments club for the past two years, will represent students. Lewis & Clark’s Director of Sustainability Amy Dvorak will provide technical advice.  

“The varied approaches to fossil-fuel divestment have different investment implications making the task at hand quite complex,” explained Chief Investment Officer Carl Vance, who will staff the subcommittee with the assistance of Mike Pearce from the mission-related investments team at Cambridge Associates. Fortunately, Lewis & Clark’s community of trustees, faculty, staff, and students have the experience and dedication for the job at hand.

The subcommittee will aim to deliver their report and recommendations at the February 2018 board of trustees meeting. In the meantime, as a commitment to the work, the Investment Committee has decided to make no additional fossil-fuel investments.