BOULDER, Colo. (October 31, 2013)--Following a unanimous vote by Naropa University's endowment committee, the institution has fully divested from their holdings in companies identified by 350.org as having the highest potential greenhouse gas emissions, based on their carbon reserves. Naropa's board of trustees concluded that the divestment would not threaten the stability of their stock portfolio, and that continuing to practice shareholder activism involving those companies would not result in significant changes in behavior. The decision places Naropa among only a handful of other United States colleges and universities leading the charge toward more environmentally responsible investing. This divestment further represents a close partnership between the board of trustees, the administration, and a group of deeply committed students. Students not only raised their concerns, but also collaborated with the university to further discussion around divestment, shareholder advocacy, and investment strategy.
Naropa University has a steady history of aligning their investments with their institutional mission and values. For more than fifteen years, the university's endowment has negatively screened for industries such as weapons, nuclear power, tobacco, and alcohol, as well as companies with negative records in environmental impact and employee relations. Divestment from fossil fuels seemed a logical next step, especially as Naropa neared the one-year anniversary of its officially adopted Statement of Commitment to the Practice of Sustainability (naropa.edu/sustainability), which commits the university to "sustainability-in-action; employing strategic initiatives to move the community towards specific goals, such as, but not limited to, zero waste, climate neutrality, and 100% renewable energy."
"We will continue to screen our stock portfolio and engage in shareholder activism through our portfolio managers," explains Naropa trustee Christopher Hormel, "with the intention that the endowment will continue to provide needed scholarships and other support for our ongoing operations while our investments remain consistent with the principle of not causing harm. I am grateful to the visionary folks at Veris Wealth Partners, our investment advisors, for their patience and assistance over the years, and to the courageous members of the board of trustees and staff of Naropa who long ago saw the wisdom of aligning our investment policies with principles of social responsibility."
Naropa University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Naropa University is a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian liberal arts institution dedicated to advancing contemplative education. This approach to learning integrates the best of Eastern and Western educational traditions, helping students to know themselves more deeply and engage constructively with others. The university comprises a four-year undergraduate college and graduate programs in the arts, education, environmental leadership, psychology, and religious studies.