Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 85.05
Liaison Lisa Kilgore
Submission Date March 5, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Cornell University
PA-8: Committee on Investor Responsibility

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Cody Danks Burke
Investment Officer
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have a formally established and active committee on investor responsibility (CIR) that makes recommendations to fund decision-makers on socially and environmentally responsible investment opportunities across asset classes?:

The charter or mission statement of the CIR or other body which reflects social and environmental concerns or a brief description of how the CIR is tasked to address social and environmental concerns:
Cornell University’s has a shared governance structure called the “Assemblies of the University.” The Assembly structure fulfills this credit by having staff, faculty, and student representation, a formal mechanism by which to make recommendations on social and environmental investment to asset managers, and a stated component of the Assembly charter to address social and environmental issues, including investment (as well as having these issues as regular parts of the standing Assembly agendas, in practice).

The Assemblies serve as advisory bodies to the administration and formally advise the administration and recommend changes to policies through legislative processes articulated in their respective charters. The three constituent assemblies–representing undergraduate students, graduate and professional students, and staff–and the all-constituency University Assembly, along with the Faculty Senate, comprise Shared Governance at Cornell.

The Assemblies serve as a CIR structure, in that, consideration of proxy voting, responsible investment, divestment, ESG, and low-carbon considerations are recurring policy and recommendation items, and mandated specifically in several Assembly charters. This website (https://statements.cornell.edu/2020/20200213-fossil-fuel-divestment-faq.cfm) outlines specific examples of ways in which the Assembly acts as an active recommendation body for decision-makers regarding environmental and sustainability related investment topics, with specific resolution examples.

As part of this CIR framework, constituent groups, who meet individually and/or collectively to discuss social responsibility concerns, may formally bring forward recommended concerns to the President, who may then submit such concerns to the Executive Committee (a specialized group within Cornell’s Board of Trustees). These concerns may warrant consideration for action / divestment. The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees then serves as the vetting entity for all social and environmental recommendations brought to its attention on a formal basis, by one or more of the university constituency groups. The Executive Committee, with input from various parties, including but not limited to the Investment Committee and President, deliberates on each matter and determines whether criteria for action/divestment are met.

Examples of the inclusion of environmental and sustainability considerations in the charters of Assembly governance include:
Employee Assembly: Employee Welfare Committee
Review and recommend proposals and initiatives related to employee health and wellness, 226 work/life, dependent care and family support, diversity and inclusion, sustainability, 227 transportation, compensation, and any other topic deemed relevant to employee welfare. https://assembly.cornell.edu/sites/default/files/ea-bylaws_7.29.19.pdf

Student Assembly Environmental Committee
Creates new legislation and enforces past environmental legislation; provides environmental education and outreach in order to better inform students and the campus community about the environment and relevant issues.

Does the CIR include staff representation?:

Does the CIR include faculty representation?:

Does the CIR include student representation?:

Members of the CIR, including affiliations and role (e.g. student, faculty, staff, alumni):
Within Cornell’s system of CIR, as indicated above, numerous parties participate. Representation includes staff, graduate and professional students, undergraduate students, and faculty, with additional special representation for various campus locations and specialized affiliations. For a full list of membership, see https://assembly.cornell.edu/members

Examples of CIR actions during the previous three years:
Governance groups have recently raised inquiries on a wide range of topics including conflict minerals, Puerto Rican debt, fossil fuel exposure, private prisons, and human rights violations.

Over the past 3 years, the Office of University Investments has reviewed and maintained its divestment in oil companies involved in financing genocide in Sudan, as well as Sudanese government obligations, and private prison operators. Moreover, the University also tracks progress of suppliers in addressing concerns about conflict minerals. The office continues to monitor situations that could negatively impact the long-term sustainable economic value of the endowment. Currently, about 70% of Cornell’s long term investment assets are handled by managers who are UNPRI signatories or have another strong ESG/SRI framework in place to support their investment decision-making processes.

Examples of CIR actions during the previous three years

• Resolution 36: SA R36: Resolution Urging Cornell to Divest from Companies Profiting from the Occupation of Palestine and Human Rights Violation: This resolution calls upon Cornell University to divest from companies profiting from the human rights violations in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. https://assembly.cornell.edu/resolutions/sa-r36-resolution-urging-cornell-divest-companies-profiting-occupation-palestine-and

• Resolution 28: SA R28: Mandating Cornell's Commitment to the Economic Justice of Puerto Rico and the Operational Transparency of its Investments
This resolution recommends that Cornell University investigate its holdings and divest from any and all Puerto Rican debt obligations. Additionally, Cornell should create a fair investment policy in regard to government debt as well as disclose its investment partnerships in yearly tax filings.

• Resolution 10: SA R10: Integrating Sustainable Investments into Endowment Reports
This resolution urges the Board of Trustees to regularly disclose endowment investments in alternative energy-related businesses.
https://assembly.cornell.edu/resolutions/sa-r10-integrating-sustainable-investments-endowment-reports \

• Resolution 5: EA R5: Support of the Divestment from Fossil Fuels

• Resolution 6: GPSA R6: Support of the Divestment from Fossil Fuels

• Resolution 56: SA R56: Support of the Divestment from Fossil Fuels

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
See prior response

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