Guest Opinion by Western Staff and alumni
As we are witness to the climate crisis, we understand the decisions we make as a university are paramount for students and for the future. We congratulate the Western community for coming together to help guide The Western Washington University Foundation in selecting a new fund manager at the end of the last academic year. This provides opportunity for sustainable investment as per our university’s Sustainability Action Plan.
We look forward to further positive action on other key matters as well. We need clarity about the percentage of Foundation assets to be committed to Environmental and Social Governance. The extent to which decisions for ESG investing are donor driven, and how social and environmental realities influence those choices. Besides the surge of student and public support for such directions, in our state and country and worldwide, we cite mounting evidence that returns on ESG investments are at least on par with other investments, especially given the existential threat we face from the climate crisis.
We seek tangible commitment by the Western Foundation to a model of shared governance, involving faculty and staff as well as students and administration, in accord with Western’s core values. While student voices were involved in the selection process, the Faculty Senate and staff representatives have yet to be consistently apprised of developments at the Foundation.
Continuing and transparent Foundation responsiveness to the urgency of climate crisis is crucial. A university’s financial grounding powerfully shapes the institution’s overall energy and investment decisions, and ultimately our ethical and practical responsiveness to the enormous challenges that lie ahead for humanity and the planet.
We join many others in willingness to offer time and expertise to achieve these essential goals.
Jill MacIntyre Witt – Instructor, Huxley College of the Environment
James Loucky – Professor of Anthropology
Craig Dunn – Wilder Distinguished Professor of Business and Sustainability
WWU Students for Renewable Energy
Steve Hollenhorst – Dean, Huxley College of the Environment
Jack Herring – Dean, Fairhaven College
Maddy Jones and Galen Herz – WWU Alumni