Event: Sustainable Endowments Director speaks TOMORROW

Susan Paykin of SEA renown fills us in on a great event. I’m going… hope to see you there!

The College Sustainability Report Card 2010 was released this week, revealing that our overall grade rose from last year’s report from a “B-” to a “B”! The Report Card, published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute and available at www.GreenReportCard.org, grades over 300 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada on their campus and endowment sustainability activities. The categories evaluated are: AdministrationClimate Change & EnergyFood & RecyclingGreen BuildingStudent InvolvementTransportationEndowment TransparencyInvestment Priorities, and Shareholder Engagement.

Mark Orlowski, Founder and Executive Director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute and creator of the College Sustainability Report Card, will be on campus tomorrow, speaking in Lown Auditorium at 7:30. He will speak on sustainability and environmental awareness in higher education, the Report Card, and specifically Brandeis’ newest grades. I know him personally, and he is an incredible speaker and a brilliant man. Check out the Facebook event for more info.

This year, as in every single year past, the only category that Brandeis flat-out failed was Endowment Transparency. You may be asking, why and how is our endowment relevant to sustainability (and other social issues)? In short, schools across the country have a combined total of over $400 BILLION invested in the market through their endowments. As substantial investors, colleges and universities can be incredibly influential in improving corporate policies (some great examples are Bard CollegeSwarthmore College, and Dartmouth College). Where is Brandeis’ endowment invested? What are we supporting? How can we, as an institution, sustain strong returns while upholding our values of social justice?

Students have taken initiative on improving our endowment practices in terms of not only making our endowment holdings and asset classes more transparent to the school community, but also harnessing our power as a shareholders to engage in dialogue with companies and corporations. However, we need to get this conversation started again. We hope to see you at the event tomorrow.