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Coal divestment, strategic planning dominate Corporation meeting

The Corporation heard arguments on divesting and looked at a draft of the University's strategic plan

In its final meeting of the academic year Friday, the Corporation heard arguments but did not reach a decision on whether the University will divest from coal companies targeted by activist group Brown Divest Coal. The Corporation also reviewed a draft of the University’s strategic plan and offered feedback to be incorporated into the plan's final version.

The Corporation will vote on the plan at its next meeting in October.

Brown Divest Coal members Emily Kirkland ’13 and Ryan Greene ’16 attended the meeting and participated in a question and answer session with the full body of the Corporation.

The Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies released a public letter in January to President Christina Paxson urging the University to “publicly divest” from what environmentalists call “the filthy 15,” some of the largest coal companies in the country. Students from Brown Divest Coal met earlier this month with members of an ad hoc committee created to discuss divestment.

The Corporation will not address the issue of divestment again until October.

“Climate change is an incredibly urgent issue,” said Brown Divest Coal member Grant Glovin '16. “It’s unfortunate that we did not divest at this meeting.”

Glovin said the group will continue to organize and plan during the summer. The group hopes the “dialogue will continue, but it’s time to move past the dialogue and into action,” he said.

The Corporation also reviewed preliminary directions for the University’s strategic plan, a document that will likely inform Paxson’s broader presidential agenda.

Administrators will use the feedback from the meeting and the results of a financial analysis launched this summer to develop a completed draft of the report. That draft should be released for campus input in September, said Provost Mark Schlissel P’15.

In its current stage, the plan represents a “very high-level set of goals” for the University rather than specific initiatives, he said.

The plan will emphasize service to “the local and state communities, the nation and the world” and focus on innovation, creativity and “Brown’s academic core,” Paxson wrote in a community-wide email.

“It’s easy to come up with lots of great ideas,” Schlissel said. “The challenging thing is picking through the great ideas and finding out what we can afford. There’s no way we can afford to do all the good ideas that have come out of the planning process.”



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