Treasurer Talks Divestment

By KENZO OKAZAKI

In response to calls for more divestment, treasurer David Provost and representatives from Investure, Middlebury’s endowment manager, justified the college’s continued investment in fossil fuels.

Middlebury’s investments in fossil fuel corporations have been a topic of contention on campus since a divestment campaign began in 2012. Provost held a forum on April 5 for students to better understand the issue and the college’s commitment to sustainable investing. 

Several representatives of Investure joined Provost. They immediately stated that the meeting would center on audience questions rather than a scripted presentation. The founder of Investure, Alice Handy, associate and sustainability researcher Grace Bennett, and managing director John Hill attended the forum.

Handy outlined Investure’s goals in their management of the endowment, emphasizing their aim to maximize long-term returns on investments.

One student interjected and argued against the description of the endowment as a resource for future stakeholders in Middlebury, arguing that investments in fossil fuels fail to take into account the impact of climate change on future Middlebury students. The student said that hoping fossil fuel stocks will perform better implies a lack of interest in the future of the environment and the future of students, contradicting their concern for future generations.

Handy responded to the student’s concern by arguing that fossil fuels are still critical to the energy sector in the U.S. 

“We have a long way to go in this country,” Handy said. “Your board has said that if these are good investments, you should be making them.”

Provost presented the college’s decision to work with Investure as one attempt to increase sustainable investing.

“Significant steps were made to try to find more sustainable investments,” Provost said. One of these steps was Middlebury’s $50 million investment into a sustainability series managed by Investure, he said.

“We want this fund to be successful,” Handy said. This is in part to show other investors that sustainable investing can generate big returns.”

Provost also noted that in addition to investment, the college should be more conscious of its energy consumption on campus, noting that despite great gains, “we are not where you as students want us to be.”

The meeting concluded on a hopeful note about both sustainability at Middlebury and in the financial market. 

Discussing investment in renewable energy, Handy said she was “amazed at how quickly it’s moving.” 

This event fell under Middworks, a larger project spearheaded by the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Senior Leadership Group (SLG). Middworks aims to organize events that encourage increased understanding between Middlebury’s students, faculty and staff.

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Treasurer Talks Divestment