Endowment Value: $2.378 billion (June 2018)
Amherst College is a private college, located in Amherst, Massachusetts. The endowment is managed by the Amherst College Office of Investment and Investment Committee.
Currently Amherst partners with 73 sustaining investment managers, who in turn invest in public stocks, bonds, real estate, private companies and natural resources and other assets. Each of these independent managers operates with full discretion to buy, sell or trade a range of securities. Amherst looks to invest with managers who thoughtfully and consistently incorporate ESG factors into their investment diligence and process. The Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees and the Office of Investment have the important task of determining to which investment partnerships the College should allocate its capital. As a practical matter, the College does not have the ability to direct these firms on which specific securities to buy or to avoid, as Amherst’s assets are almost always invested in partnerships alongside other investors. However, Amherst does have a point of view and a responsibility to encourage its investment partners to “thoughtfully and consistently incorporate environmental considerations into the investment process.” The College wields soft influence here that is real. Investment managers are aware that sustainability is a key diligence criterion. They are also aware of how important sustainable investing principles are to their continued ability to attract investment dollars.
Over the past decade, Amherst College has taken significant steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on campus, including switching to lower carbon fuel sources, adding a co-generation plant to create heat and electricity from those fuel sources more efficiently, designing and constructing buildings following a high performance building standard, and completing recommissioning and deep energy retrofits of existing buildings to further improve our campus energy intensity. These actions have resulted in a 30 percent reduction in emissions from 2006 levels.
In 2015, the Amherst College Board of Trustees approved a Statement on Sustainability and Investment Policy, which acknowledged the grave threat posed by climate change, and supported the development of a strategy for achieving a carbon-neutral footprint on campus. The statement committed the College to “adopt policies that embed sustainability in its operations, in its investment process and its life as a community,” and stipulated that progress be regularly reported to the Amherst community. In 2017, the College also developed a plan to to go “beyond carbon neutral,” which would apply a carbon tax to Amherst’s business-as-usual emissions in 2035 and spend that annual amount now to fund projects that will decarbonize the campus.
To further their engagement with other higher education, as well as investment organizations, Amherst has partnered with Ceres, a nonprofit organization advocating for sustainability leadership, through membership in its Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR). "As part of our involvement with the INCR, the College has supported two letter writing initiatives: one to the finance ministers of the Group of Seven in support of a long-term global emissions reduction goal and one in support of the White House’s proposal to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by at least 45% below 2012 levels by 2025." In 2017, the College also became a signatory to the “We Are Still In Campaign” to demonstrate its commitment to delivering in the Paris Agreement promise.
Proxy Voting Policy - Amherst College continues to use the voting rights attached to the shares of companies in which it invests to promote the principles of sustainable and responsible investment, utilizing research from ISS for all proxies before casting votes in alignment with these principles. The College continues to proactively evaluate and vote shareholder proxies in alignment with ESG principles, advocating for corporate accountability on social, ethical, environmental and governance issues.
Amherst College is a participant or member of the following Initiatives & Commitments:
- AASHE STARS: Yes
- ACUPCC: No
- Billion Dollar Green Challenge: No
- CDP: No
- Committee on Investor Responsibility: Yes: Advisory Committee on SRI
- Divestment Goal: No
- INCR: Yes
- Montreal Carbon Pledge: No
- Sustainable Investment Fund: No
- Sustainable Investment Policy: Yes
- Principles for Responsible Investment: No
Other Sustainable Investing Practices: