On Monday April 20, the Task Force on Divestment released their final report (phase two) that outlines their recommendation on the issue of fossil fuel divestment. The task force is made up of three faculty members, three staff, three students and one trustee. The original goal of the task force was to “upon completion of its work, to issue a report to the Board of Trustees and the Skidmore College community, understanding that any recommendations would not be binding upon the Trustees or the Administration.”
Jim Kennely, the chair of the task force, wrote in an email to the Skidmore community on April 20, “we believe our recommendations to be both financially prudent and consistent with our institutional values; we have every reason to believe that they will be carefully considered by the Board at its May meetings.”
The recommendation from the task force that is written in the phase two report is “we advise against divestment.” Phase two goes on to say that they recommend Skidmore not divest “not because we disagree with the goals of the divestment movement—but because of what we understand to be the uncertainty and financial risks associated with full divestment.”
Though the task force recommended against divestment early in the report, they also wrote about how they think this is not all Skidmore should do. “We also believe that a simple rejection of divestment is insufficient and not in accordance with Skidmore’s espoused values with regard to sustainability, civic engagement, and our educational mission,” as written in the phase two report.
With this in mind the report has a list of six recommendations that the task force recommends for Skidmore. The six recommendations are as follows:
“1. Skidmore College should make an explicit commitment that it will not purchase or hold any equity or debt issued by companies on the Carbon Underground 200 List in its direct holdings.
2. Reallocate approximately 4% of the endowment to fossil-free or sustainable and clean tech investment funds on a test basis, increasing this allocation over time if performance merits it; additionally, provide potential donors with the opportunity to direct their contributions to such fossil-free and sustainable investment choices.
3. Collaborate with other comparable institutions of higher education to influence and/or accelerate the creation of high performance, professionally managed, fossil-free and/or sustainable portfolios that will generate acceptable “alphas” and more generally expand the universe of fossil-free and/or sustainable investment options that are available to Skidmore and other institutions.
4. Explicitly encourage our 40-50 investment managers to reduce or eliminate their holdings of fossil fuel investments to the greatest extent possible, consistent with financial realities and prudence, and clearly articulate to our investment managers our interest in moving towards a fossil-free portfolio.
5. Acknowledge the linkage between Skidmore’s investment portfolio and its institutional values, and amend Skidmore’s existing Investment Policy so that it incorporates these values.
6. If these recommendations are endorsed, they should be incorporated into the annual Strategic Action Agenda and a review of our progress in achieving them should be conducted on an annual basis by an appropriate group determined by the President.”