University News

Divestment awaits formal committee proposal

Wednesday’s meeting focused on the level of analysis expected in ACCRIP’s proposal

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, March 7, 2013

Before making a decision on divesting from coal industries, President Christina Paxson is waiting for a formal recommendation from ACCRIP.

The Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investing did not formally recommend divesting from 15 of the largest coal mining and utility companies, said University administrators and faculty members present at the committee’s meeting with President Christina Paxson Wednesday.

The meeting instead focused on ACCRIP’s role as an advisory body in general and, more specifically, on what Paxson expects from any formal recommendations the committee makes in the future, said Beppie Huidekoper, executive vice president for finance and administration.

ACCRIP voted in November to draft a formal recommendation in favor of divesting from coal companies. Paxson is waiting for the group to submit its formal recommendation before deciding whether to recommend divestment to the Corporation, the University’s highest governing body.

“She wanted to say … here’s how I expect your advice to come, the kind of analysis I expect, what I expect to justify your recommendations and the kind of things that I want to understand — what your thought process was, who was pro and who was against,” Huidekoper said.

Though ACCRIP member and Senior Lecturer of Engineering Christopher Bull ’79 SCM ’86 PhD’06 told The Herald on Monday divesting from coal would “be one of the issues that (the committee) will discuss” at yesterday’s meeting, Bull said Wednesday that ACCRIP and Paxson “did not discuss the coal issue specifically.”

“(The discussion) was more on the moral, ethical, legal and economic basis for how we make decisions,” he said.

But Ian Trupin ’13.5, a member of ACCRIP, said coal was discussed in detail during the meeting, though he did not elaborate on what was said.

Bull said a complex issue like coal divestment requires “due diligence,” adding that both ACCRIP and Paxson want to ensure all possible sides of the issue are debated.

“We’re a volunteer group and we’re all busy,” he said. “I can say that I’d like to have this completed and in front of the president in the next month or so. I’d like to see that, but I certainly wouldn’t guarantee it.”

Emily Kirkland ’13, a member of Brown Divest Coal, said the group did not expect ACCRIP to recommend divesting at the Wednesday meeting. But she added that she expects ACCRIP to release its formal recommendation “within a week or 10 days.”

  • Tom Bale ’63

    As an alumnus very concerned about climate change my expectations are rising that my university will not let me down, and will finally decide to divest the endowment of coal investments. I have always thought that Brown encourages its students to be socially responsible. It is what Margaret Klawunn, VP of Campus Life, has worked for – the integration of academics with the student’s life in the wider community. Isn’t this a crucial teaching moment for Brown?

  • Reggie Evans ’85

    Disappointed that President Paxson and senior ACCRIP members are stalling this decision for as long as they can. Enough cowardice–decide!