April 30, 2014
The Fort Lewis College Foundation Board has voted to not divest its endowment portfolio of fossil fuel investments, which constitute only 0.8% of a portfolio totaling about $17.2 million. The Board has instructed its investment committee to monitor the level of fossil fuel investments and report to the Board at least annually. The Board expresses its appreciation for the group of students that pushed for divestment, their passion and determination. They also appreciate the students bringing this issue to their attention. Further, the Board acknowledges that environmental issues are a serious concern facing our world today and in the future.
One concern with divestment is that when donors contribute to the FLC Foundation’s endowment, they are entrusting the Foundation to use their funds to improve both the quality of and access to a Fort Lewis College education for students. To use the endowment as leverage to try and force political or social change, regardless of how worthy the cause, could put the Foundation at odds with the fiduciary duty given to them by donors. In addition, energy companies are strong supporters of the community, some of them and their stakeholders are, or may be in the future, donors to the College and we would be at risk of losing this support.
Another concern is that the fossil fuel investments currently held by the Foundation are part of larger mutual funds managed by independent advisors over which the Foundation has no authority to divest of individual stocks.
Fort Lewis College has taken actions in recent years that have the potential to positively impact the environment. The College has spent tens of millions of dollars to build LEED Gold buildings, to upgrade its facilities to reduce energy consumption and water usage, and to take advantage of alternative energy sources.
A more impactful path to improving the environment is to provide Fort Lewis College students with the best education possible so that they can create the technologies and policies of the future to best utilize the Earth’s resources in more environmentally friendly ways. That ideal is one that falls in line with the mission of the Fort Lewis College Foundation and one that the Foundation fully supports.
Chairman, Fort Lewis College Foundation Board of Directors