President Liebowitz Announces Endowment Statistics and Addresses Possibility of Divestment in All-School Email
Middlebury President Ron Liebowitz sent out an all-school email today revealing that approximately 3% of the school’s $900 million endowment is invested in fossil fuels and approximately 0.6% is invested in defense and arms manufacturing. He also announced plans for panel discussions about divestment that would include “representatives from the firm that manages our endowment (Investure), veteran investment managers, and our own Scholar-in-Residence, Bill McKibben.”
This email comes on the heals of widespread student engagement on campus the past year concerning the ethics of our endowment, including several student groups calling for Middlebury to take leadership in divestment, controversial but discussion-provoking activism, and a nation-wide campaign led by Scholar-in-Residence Bill McKibben to encourage universities and colleges to divest from fossil fuel industries.
Liebowitz’s acknowledgment of the possibility of divestment was encouraging to those hoping for divestment, but far from definitive. He said in the email:
“The management of Middlebury’s endowment is complex and has evolved over time… the College is very limited in either selecting or deleting any particular investment within its overall portfolio. Despite such limitations, the Investment Committee, the Administration, and Investure have been working with ACSRI to ensure that socially responsible investing is discussed and reviewed as a regular and ongoing part of the investment process…At the same time, the primary fiduciary responsibility of our investment committee is to maximize its investment returns to support vital programs including financial aid and staff and faculty compensation, while managing risk…It is vitally important to understand both the risks and rewards of one’s investment decisions as we are the stewards not only of the endowment for the current generation of Middlebury students, faculty, and staff, but for future generations as well.”
McKibben responded to Liebowitz’s email through 350.org saying, ““President Liebowitz used just the right tone and took precisely the right step. It won’t be easy to divest, but I have no doubt that Middlebury–home of the first environmental studies dept in the nation–will do the right thing in the right way. It makes me proud to be a Panther.”
MiddBlog will be providing more information about the significance of this email as we get it.
Read his whole email after the jump: Read more