Corporation of Brown University, Providence, R.I., opted against divesting from coal-related companies at its Oct. 26 meeting, confirmed university spokesman Mark Nickel in an e-mail.
The corporation, which oversees the university's $2.9 billion endowment, determined that divestment from a set of companies involved in the mining or use of coal for generating electricity was not the right tool to achieve shared goals of addressing climate change. Instead, the board believes that advancing teaching, research and university sustainability commitments are more effective approaches to pursue.
In a letter to the Brown community on why the school has decided not to divest from coal-related companies, Brown University President Christina Paxson said that although she agrees that “companies that produce coal or use it in power generation cause social harm,” she believes that since coal is the source of 40% of the world's electricity, “a cessation of the production and use of coal would itself create significant economic and social harm to countless communities across the globe.”
Brown University's endowment returned 12.6% for the fiscal year ended June 30. The return is a full percentage point higher than the 11.6% average return for college and university endowments, as reported by Cambridge Associates.
Ms. Paxson's letter is available on Brown's website.