Barnard’s Board of Trustees established the Presidential Task Force to Examine Divestment at its meeting on December 9, 2015, as a result of an effective year-long campaign by the student group Divest Barnard to convince Barnard’s administration and Board of Trustees to consider divesting its endowment from fossil fuel companies.
Presidential Task Force to Examine Divestment
The goal of the Task Force was to enable Committee on Investments and, subsequently, the Board of Trustees, to make an informed decision about whether to seek divestment from companies that extract, process, distribute, and sell fossil fuels. Former President Debora Spar charged the Task Force “to work collaboratively with a cross-section of the Barnard community to assess the financial implications of divestment; to understand Barnard's ethical responsibilities as a good global citizen in dealing with the impact of climate change; and to make a determination about the compatibility of these priorities.”
Over the course of nine months, the Task Force weighed the financial and fiduciary responsibilities of the Board to grow the value of Barnard’s endowment and the moral and ethical issues surrounding Barnard’s responsibility to do its part to address the climate change issue, and ultimately made the decision to divest from fossil fuel companies that deny climate science or otherwise seek to thwart efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change on March 4, 2017. Barnard is the first college to take the unique and innovative approach of divesting from climate change deniers.
Following the divestment decision made in March of 2017, a working group of students, faculty, and trustees has been conducting research to develop clear and rigorous criteria to evaluate companies' statements, actions, and attitudes towards climate science and climate change. This is consistent with Barnard’s mission as an academic institution supporting the open exchange of scientific information, the free flow of information and transparency. Read more about the criteria.