Responsible & transparent investment

A while ago, you all may recall I sent an email to Pres. Reinharz concerning endowment transparency (see previous posts). Well, he responded. Some highlights:

There are good reasons why the University does not disclose the details of its investments. Disclosure of holdings rarely, if ever, improves returns, and in most cases, disclosure hurts returns…There are groups and individuals, who in no way have the best interest of the University at heart, who seek transparency for the advancement of their own interests in ways that could be contrary to the University’s interests…

You should know that the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees reports annually to the full Board regarding investment policy and social responsibility.

You may find the full text of the email here.

We intend to pursue this issue and investigate the validity of Pres. Reinharz vague claims of the sinister intentions and woeful effects of transparency.Other prestigious universities such as Brown, Swarthmore, Vassar, Harvard, and Columbia all have student involvemnt in committees concerned with investment responsibility.

I will leave you with the following from the Sustainable Endowment Institute:

Won’t shareowner engagement hurt our endowment investment returns?
No. Shareowner engagement does not involve any changes in investments, therefore, it does not impact endowment investment returns. The goal of shareowner engagement is to seek substantial improvement in corporate policies through dialogue with corporate management. The university endowment’s position of power with the company comes through its status as a shareholder.