Once some trustees have answered their pressing questions about aligning their endowment with their school's mission , it will be helpful to build consensus about how the endowment investments may be used to support institutional purpose among a larger group of fiduciaries including other trustees, the investment committee, CIO's and CFO's - before progressing with implementation. The discussion can be enriched by including the broad campus community including students, alumni, donors, faculty and staff.
Consensus Building among Trustees and other Endowment Fiduciaries
Conversations among trustees and other endowment fiduciaries can challenge the participants to investigate their investment beliefs, their world views and their values. Often, these conversations occur in the midst of a politically charged atmosphere.
Here are some true stories about those conversations in the boardroom, the challenges and the solutions from Hampshire College, Becker College, University of Dayton and San Francisco State University.
Stories from the Boardroom - Leadership Governance & Fiduciary Duty
Stories from the Boardroom - Building Consensus for Sustainable Investing Panel
Establishing a community wide dialogue
Engaging all stakeholders is a way the board and endowment managers can draw on the creativity and intellectual capacity of the community. Furthermore, engagement signals to the community that the university or foundation is taking action on sustainability.
There are a number of vehicles for involving campus stakeholders in the learning and conversation about sustainable investing. Here are a few that have been used successfully by higher education institutions:
- A year-long dialogue through town halls, debates, lecture series, articles in campus publications, etc.
- Committee on Investor Responsibility to liaise between stakeholders and decision makers
- Student-led sustainable investing fund to function as a pilot for developing a sustainable investing framework