Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 81.30
Liaison Patrick McKee
Submission Date June 30, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Connecticut
PA-8: Committee on Investor Responsibility

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Sarah Munro
Sustainability Coordinator
Office of Environmental Policy
"---" 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:

The President’s Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility exists to provide advice and guidance to the President’s Office to help ensure that the University maintains its position as a leader among institutions of higher education committed to the protection and advancement of CSR policies that reflect respect for fundamental human rights, environmental sustainability, and the dignity of all people.
1. Examine our relationships with other universities, national and international organizations, and others, to determine how we can work together to best meet our common objectives. This would include our relationship with the University’s contracted licensing agency (The Collegiate Licensing Company – CLC) regarding corporate social responsibility in the production of officially licensed products utilizing the indicia (work marks and logos) of the University.
2. Regularly monitor the on-going corporate social responsibility efforts of the Workers Rights Consortium and the Fair Labor Association and recommend University action in response, as appropriate.
3. Encourage and support academic research in this area to advance the understanding of global labor issues throughout the University community.
4. Encourage and support community awareness of corporate social responsibility and action through a variety of means, including curricular development, facilitation of dialogue among university related groups, and ongoing communication.
5. Respond to emerging issues related to CSR within the University community and advise the President’s Office with respect to such issues and potential responses.

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):

Gina DeVivo Brassaw, Chair –Staff, Student Activities
Tasneem Ahmed – Student Representative
Oksan Bayulgen – Faculty, Political Science
Leslie Cote – Staff, Purchasing Dept.
Kimberly Fearney – Staff, Audit, Compliance & Ethics
Jeremy L. Jelliffe – Student Representative
Caroline Kaeb – Faculty, Marketing Dept.
Michael Kirk – Staff, President’s Office
Richard Miller – Staff, Environmental Policy
Glenn Mitoma – Faculty, Human Rights Institute
Kyle Muncy – Staff, Division of Athletics
Dennis Pierce – Staff, Dining Services
Lillian Bosques, Staff Support for Committee – President’s Office

Examples of CIR actions during the previous three years:

While the committee charge for the PCCSR may seem narrow, as the committee has matured, it has taken on far more roles to include responsible investment (much like a CIR), developing a Vendor Code of Conduct, providing recommendations on investing Student Managed Funds, and addressing topics as broad as environmental sustainability and water conservation.
In the past three years, responsible investment has taken a leading role within the PCCSR. The PCCSR has partnered with the UConn Foundation, to provide recommendations on responsible investment opportunities. This open dialogue between the PCCSR and the Foundation can clearly be seen from excerpts from formal meeting notes below: http://csr.uconn.edu/meeting-minutes-archive/

December 2, 2015

“Presentation led Foundation CFO, Gerry Ganz
UConn Foundation Portfolio:
• $313 Million in endowed pool (fluctuates)
• $45-50 Million in non-endowed pool (More liquid assets)
Portfolio Management Strategy has changed:
• 1/3 identify new partner (Covariance Capital Management)
o Covariance (CCM) backed over $1 Bil by TIAA-CREF (TIAA-CREF is one of largest institutional asset management firms)
o CCM has understanding of university missions/endowments
o CCM shapes allocation of investments based on Foundation’s allocation
• 1/3 invest in passive equities (liquid, ETFs etc.)
• 1/3 private non-marketable investing (illiquid) (e.g. investing in new venture funds)
UConn Foundation Performance:
• UConn’s endowment is compared to other similar-sized schools
• FY’15 close to average performance for peer group
3 Pieces to Consider for Endowment success:
1. Earnings
2. Spending Distributions
3. Fees (to run)
Foundation needs to overcome the hurdle rate to grow (more earnings then what is disbursed and paid in fees)
1,531 Endowment Funds in Total (fluctuates)
Foundation SRI Discussion:
• No formal exclusions, but Foundation does invest with university mission in mind
o New statement will have “We will consider”
o Want to keep flexibility as mission is to make money for university’s missions
• Currently updating statement to include how they generally handle ESG/SRI
• Several examples of SRI Investments
o Investments in venture funds that only invest in companies that meet strong ESG standards
• 0 direct exposure to coal
• Less than 1% exposure to fossil fuel production (very low compared to many endowments)
• No exposure to guns, gambling or casinos
• Example of SRI vetting:
o Did not invest in profitable vineyards investment because against university mission
Process for formal exclusions (i.e. formal divestment of coal or other fossil fuels)
• Need Board approval
• Formal letter to Board of Directors President & CEO, Chair, and Secretary”

November 4, 2015

“Rich Miller provided information about the UConn Sustainability Partnership meeting with CocaCola held on October 13, 2015. He presented a power point that focused on the value chain, suppliers, retailers, innovation, people infrastructure, and their 2020 environmental goals and expanding commitments globally…Rich Miller mentioned that there are about eleven bottle filling stations on campus and another 25 will be installed.”

March 26, 2015

“ Kimberly Fearney informed the committee that the University of Connecticut Foundation has appointed Mr. Gerald Ganz as Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer effective March 2015.”

August 29, 2014

“The group discussed adding new members to committee to ensure representation by those on campus who are committed to CSR-related issues. Suggestions were made to consider members of the UConn community with expertise in the Facilities Operations, Residential Life, Foundation, Procurement, and Legal matters (Attorney General’s Office).”

March 14, 2014

“Gina introduced Kevin Edwards, from the UConn Foundation. Mr. Edwards made a presentation and explained how the UConn Foundation endowments are invested. The Foundation goal and responsibilities is to maximum the returns to help build the endowments. Kevin will be happy to talk about collaboration to identify opportunities to discuss with managers on their investments.”

February 27, 2013

“Mr. Edwards gave the committee a quick overview of his role as Vice President for Finance/Chief Investment Officer at the University of Connecticut Foundation. He then offered background on his interaction with members of the UConn community who have advocated recently that the Foundation divest in fossil fuel holdings. Edwards explained that there have been only two communications on this score (one letter from Emeritus faculty member from the UConn Health Center to President Herbst; and another communication from a student sent to the Alumni Association). Edwards prepared a reply for use by President Herbst but not had further communications from either. His position is to engage in exploring multiple types of energy holdings, while maintaining an emphasis on growing the portfolio. As he explained, UConn's endowment is invested in multiple mutual funds with equities from many diverse companies, much like an individual's 401k. Hence UConn's endowment is not directly invested in any stocks (fossil fuel or otherwise). Any energy sector holdings in those funds are likely to include fossil fuel industry stocks, whether coal, oil or natural gas, like Exxon/Mobil, and they have been relatively profitable over the years. In the past, there have been student efforts at encouraging targeted divestiture (specifically, from holdings with connections to Darfur, Sudan) and Edwards outlined the steps he had taken in that case to involve students in discussing such issues with the investment committee of the Foundation. Edwards noted that despite a national grassroots movement on divestiture in fossil fuels led by the NGO 350.org, only a small number of primarily East-Coast-based private universities have taken action. For example, Brown University has voted to divest of any direct holdings in fossil fuel companies listed by 350.org. and Harvard University has created an advisory staff position to explore diversifying the energy holdings in its portfolio. Edwards would be open to meeting with Rich Miller both to enhance our reporting on portfolio management as it relates to UConn's Sierra Club ranking, and to explore the means for dialogue around potential energy diversification options. He also pointed out early on that while the Foundation is a separate legal entity (501c3) from UConn, there are 10 UConn senior administrators on his Board of Directors.”

To highlight that the PCCSRs scope goes beyond the charge, please refer to the following four examples:
1. Vendor Code of Conduct: Through the efforts and approval of the President’s Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility (PCCSR), the University of Connecticut adopted a Vendor Code of Conduct to support interests in working with vendors that demonstrate a commitment to values that include, but are not limited to, nondiscrimination, respect for human rights and labor standards, health and safety, environmental compliance, and environmental sustainability. UConn is committed to building a safe, healthy, and sustainable environmental through natural resource conservation, the purchase and use of environmentally responsible products, materials, and services, and preventing pollution and minimizing waste through reduction, reuse, and recycling. The University seeks to partner with vendors that demonstrate commitment to these values.
2. Investing Student Managed Funds: http://csr.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/792/2015/11/Student-Manged-Fund-11-04-2015.pdf
3. Educational Forums: This past semester, the PCSSR held the forum, How to Promote Human Rights and Sustainability in Collegiate Licensing, Procurement, and Investment, to discuss the challenges and opportunities for colleges and universities to responsibly manage the human rights and environmental impacts of their business operations. Experts, professionals, students, and other stakeholders were present to determine ways to ensure that university and business operations yield positive social and environmental impacts through licensing, procurement, and investment relationships.
4. Think Outside of the Bottle Initiative: The University of Connecticut’s Think Outside the Bottle initiative distributes reusable water bottles to first year students and members of UCPEA, AAUP, and AFSCME with the goal of reducing our carbon footprint on campus, and educating the community about the many benefits of drinking tap versus bottled water. The installation of water bottle refill stations around campus also continues to add to this effort to create a more sustainable campus, cutting back on waste created and energy used to produce disposable plastic water bottles.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

At the University of Connecticut, the President’s Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility exists to provide assistance and guidance to the President’s Office to assure that the University maintains its position as a leader among institutions of higher education committed to the protection and advancement of CSR policies that reflect respect for fundamental human rights and the dignity of all people. The PCCSR Committee acts to make sure there are socially and environmentally responsible investment opportunities in terms of the University’s purchasing policies.

Think Outside the Bottle is a new UConn initiative that distributes reusable water bottles to incoming first year students and staff with the intent of decreasing bottled water consumption on campus. By doing this and continuing to install water bottle refill stations around campus, the university hopes to create a more sustainable campus and decrease its reliance on bottled water.

Finally, the PCCSR was able to help the student managed funds (which invest in individual stocks rather than indexes and mutual funds) design guidelines for Socially and Environmentally Responsible Investing, which were implemented in Fall 2013.

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