As part of this University’s core commitment to positively impact communities and serve the public good, we regularly evaluate whether we are living up to those ideals. I’m pleased to share that through the leadership of the Board of Trustees, we have taken an important step in making sure that funds invested from our endowment are better aligned with the University’s responsibility to serve the common good.
Suffolk has a strong and longstanding commitment to sustainability. Like other universities, we take seriously our obligation to confront climate change. We constantly strive to foster inclusion, both in our own community and globally. And we believe we play a role in making the world a better and more just place. With this comes a responsibility to avoid investing in industries that may conflict with or run counter to our mission and values.
This past June, the Board of Trustees approved a change to Suffolk’s Investment Policy Statement that prohibits University investment in five industries. They are:
- Fossil Fuels
- For-Profit Prisons
- Predatory Lending
In January of this year, the University implemented new guidelines under that policy that will ensure that our long-term investment portfolio better aligns with Suffolk’s mission. We have liquidated investments in certain domestic and international equity funds that had exposures to those now prohibited industries. The exposure represented about 2% of our total investment portfolio.
The Board’s Investment Subcommittee chose two firms to hold those liquidated funds in separately managed, index-based accounts. RhumbLine Advisers, an employee-owned, Boston-based institutional investment firm, will manage domestic holdings. Aperio Group, part of the asset management firm BlackRock, will manage international holdings. Both firms will screen for any exposure to prohibited industries.
This initiative was led by our Board of Trustees, and is one that falls squarely in the Board’s purview. I’m grateful to the Board and its Investment Subcommittee for their proactive engagement and leadership in this area. Our trustees believe in the power of our mission, and they are deeply committed to it. The Board may consider additional revisions to the investment policy in the future to ensure that our investment portfolio remains aligned with our mission and values.
My thanks also to Senior Vice President for Finance & Administration and Treasurer Laura Sander and her team for their work in implementing this new policy.
Suffolk joins a number of other colleges and universities implementing socially responsible guidelines in the management of investment portfolios. The successful pursuit of strong returns on University investments in no way requires us to depart from our mission and values. On the contrary, I believe they can be fully aligned. In addition to the University’s many academic and research initiatives in these areas, as well as tireless efforts on the part of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni, we can also bring our investment resources to bear in the pursuit of a more sustainable, equitable, and just world.
Marisa J. Kelly