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Paxson forms Corporation committee to talk divestment

A new committee will advise the Corporation and the issue could be put to a vote next month

President Christina Paxson assembled an ad hoc committee of six Corporation members to discuss whether the University should divest from coal, Paxson wrote in a guest column slated to run in Monday’s Herald.

The Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies recommended to Paxson last week that the University divest from coal companies included in the 15 protested by the student group Brown Divest Coal.

In the past, the University president has recommended divestment after ACCRIP endorsed divesting from holdings in tobacco, HEI Hotels and companies profiting from Darfur.

Donald Hood SCM’68 Ph.D.’70, a member of the Corporation’s Board of Fellows, will oversee the committee. The committee’s other members include Corporation Trustees Alison Cohen ’09 and Laurence Cohen ’78, Fellow Samuel Mencoff ’78 P’11 P’15, Trustee Steven Price ’84 and Fellow Maria Zuber SCM’83 Ph.D.’86, Paxson wrote.

“We want the Corporation to vote yes on divestment in May,” said Emily Kirkland ’13, a member of Brown Divest Coal. The group hopes “this committee is just a way to make sure that the vote is as informed as possible,” she said.

Several representatives from Brown Divest Coal will “speak about the reasons that divestment is important” with the ad hoc committee in the next couple of weeks, she said.

The group will continue to demonstrate throughout the semester and has planned an event next week with student and professor protestors, Kirkland said.

Christopher Bull, senior lecturer in engineering and a member of ACCRIP, declined to comment on the formation of the committee, as did Ian Trupin ’13.5, a student member of ACCRIP and former Herald opinions columnist.

The ad hoc committee's recommendation will be presented to the Corporation before the Corporation votes on divestment in May, Hood said, adding that the committee will convene for the first time in the next couple of weeks.

"Our first job obviously is to study the (ACCRIP's) report," Hood said, adding that the ad hoc committee plans to meet with the members of ACCRIP as part of their study. Hood will come to Providence in person and members of the ad hoc committee who cannot travel here on such short notice will be included in conversations via conference call, he added.

"This is a serious issue and has to be seriously considered," Hood said. "My sense is the (ACCRIP) committee that made this report spent a lot of time and considered the issues, so now we have to do our work."


A previous version of this article stated that Hood could not be reached for comment as of press time.


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