University of North Carolina at Asheville and the UNC Asheville Foundation are searching for a manager to run all or a portion of its more than $50 million endowment in sustainable investments, according to an RFP on the state's purchasing website.
The university is seeking a firm to oversee "the process of articulating our investment values statement and investment policy" toward environmentally sustainable investments "while not sacrificing investment returns," according to the RFP.
UNC Asheville currently invests its endowed holdings with UNC Management Co., which oversees management of the endowment assets of all UNC system schools. Ben Underwood, associate vice chancellor for advancement operations at UNC Asheville, said in an email that the university will decide "at later date whether we will continue to invest with UNC Management." Mr. Underwood added that UNC Management is eligible to respond to the RFP.
In response to student advocacy in 2016, UNC Asheville issued a statement to UNC Management seeking sustainable investing options, the RFP stated. An Asheville university working group of students, faculty and staff created in 2017 studied the issue before launching a request for information on sustainable investments that received 34 responses. The group presented its results to the endowment/investment committee, and the committee approved moving forward with an RFP.
"Our expectation is that the values statement and investment policy created through this work will guide the institution's investments using ESG criteria, and toward full or partial divestment from fossil-fuel holdings," the RFP stated. "It will be critical that the company we engage have the capacity to guide the university through the creation of the values statement and investment policy by engaging constituents including students, trustees, foundation board members, faculty, and staff."
The RFP is available on the state's purchasing website. Proposals are due by Nov. 2 at 3 p.m. EDT. No timetable was given for a decision.