Fort Lewis College investments will now be scored for sustainability and social impacts after the Board of Trustees unanimously adopted the Environmental, Social, Governance rule to their Investment Policy. The Investment Advisory Committee is required to periodically review investments for environmental, social, and governance factors, including clean technology and pollution, water use and conservation, human rights, community development, board of directors’ independence, and corporate political contributions. The IAC will submit a report of their findings to the full Board annually.
“The Investment Advisory Committee and Board of Trustees appreciate the efforts of the college’s stakeholders, including the Environmental Center, advocating for this change to the investment policy,” said Alan Hill, chair of the Investment Advisory Committee of the Board. “The revised policy demonstrates a strong commitment to incorporate environmental, social and governance considerations in the College’s investment strategy.”
Fort Lewis College currently has investing authority for 20% of its portfolio. Previously, the Colorado State Treasurer invested all state money in low-risk, fixed-income investments, but in 2013 the legislature granted authority for Fort Lewis College to invest outside of the State Treasurer. FLC began exercising its investing powers in December 2015.
The Environmental Center, a student-driven organization focused on campus and community sustainability, has been continually involved in FLC’s progress toward more environmentally sound financial investments. The student Energy Impact team led the EC’s engagement with Trustees over the last year, urging them to adopt a greener investment strategy.
“At the EC, we recognize it’s a step in the right direction. It’s not the most aggressive financial policy that FLC could use to send a message to bad actors, but it’s a move that upholds the College’s values, which we support,” said Marty Pool, coordinator for the EC.
Jazzmin Matchette, Energy Impact student leader majoring in Political Science and Psychology, wants to ensure that dollars were invested with the environmental and social values of students in mind.
“As a student I find it important that FLC takes administrative action to tackle climate change through new and innovative outlets,” Matchette said. “Becoming conscious of where we invest our money as an institution is a great starting point for these efforts. However, with the United Nations reporting that we have less than 10 years to prevent the earth from increasing 1.5 degrees Celsius, more direct action to reduce our carbon footprint as an institution may be necessary soon.”
The Board of Trustees is charged with the general supervision of the College and the exclusive control and direction of all funds of and appropriations to the College. The ESG scoring is a broad and holistic look at how companies manage their affairs. The review of investments under the ESG policy will guide the Board in their fiduciary oversight toward investments and companies that prioritize sustainable development and business practices.
“This policy is about making good investment decisions and helping the sustainability of Fort Lewis and global communities,” said Michele Peterson, associate vice president for Finance & Administration and Chief Financial Officer.