Your well-intentioned request is impractical –VSU Foundation

The VSU Foundation knows more than 98% of climate scientists, and also sneers at former divestment from tobacco and apartheid companies. Nevermind that fossil fuel divestment is going faster than either of those. Is it good fiduciary responsibility to stay invested in the stranded investments of fossil fuel stocks while solar stocks are skyrocketing? Is this really how to encourage people to give to VSU? Is that how the alumni want their investments used?

Seen today on S.A.V.E.’s facebook page, VSU Foundation’s response to S.A.V.E.’s fossil fuel divestment request:

October 29, 2013

Danielle Jordan, President
Valdosta State University

Dear Ms. Jordan,

The Investment Committee of the VSU Foundation Board of Trustees has reviewed the request from your organization that securities issued by companies engaged in the production of fossil fuel energy be excluded from the foundation’s endowment portfolios. Compliance with your well-intentioned request is impractical for a number of reasons and perhaps even a breach of the fiduciary responsibility that all of our trustees take very seriously.

The various VSU Foundation endowment portfolios are managed on a discretionary basis by multiple asset management firms within the parameters of a specific allocation model carefully constructed by our committee using the advice and expertise of our lead asset manager, Ladenburg Thalmann. During the ongoing process of active asset management, portfolio managers must be granted the discretion to move into and away from any sector of the economy they wish as long as they remain consistent with their individual mandates and objectives. It’s possible that abridging this freedom of movement could adversely impact overall investment performance, but more importantly, it could impact the ability of asset managers to control overall investment risk. The endowment’s value to the university, its students, and its faculty is something that we are unwilling to jeopardize.

The marketers of “socially responsible” investing, always anxious to promote a particular investment process, change their approach from time-to-time. Years ago it was all about alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and apartheid. Now it’s about anthropogenic climate change. In the interest of intellectual honesty, I suggest you read some critiques of the UN report you cite in your letter. You’ll have no trouble finding them.

It is the desire of the VSU Foundation to financially support the university to the utmost of our ability and to let “social responsibility” and the “reduction of human suffering” flow forth from the university’s success in accomplishing its mission over the many years to come. This, in our judgment, is the best and highest use of the assets with which we are entrusted.



Wayne Edwards

PHONE 229.333.5939 — TOLL FREE 800.464.3638-i — FAX 229.259 2553 — WEB — ADDRESS 1500 N Patterson St — Valdosta. GA 31698-0213
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