The Socially Responsible Investing Advisory Council is a group of students, faculty, staff, and administrators that makes recommendations to the Vice President for Finance and Treasurer on sustainability investment at the University of Vermont, including positive investments of operating cash reserves and the Clean Energy Fund.
Increasing Impact: The University's Operating Reserves
During the spring 2018 semester, members of the SRI Advisory Council researched options available for increasing the positive impacts of a portion of the University’s invested operating reserves. This research was requested by Vice President for Finance Richard Cate. The options investigated were within the parameters of the University Cash Management and Liquidity Policy and the guidelines put forth by the VP for Finance. A recommendation was made to the Vice President Cate in May after several presentations, meetings with experts in the investment field, and substantial research.
After research and extensive conversations on the options available to the University, the SRI Advisory Council recommended moving forward on a green bond strategy to improve the ESG metrics of a portion of UVM’s operating reserves. UVM’s selected investment advisors will work with the university on this strategy and bring considerable experience in the SRI space. They also work with business school students at several universities to support educational efforts related to financial markets and socially responsible investing.
The SRIAC also recommended working closely with Professor Chuck Schnitzlein of the Grossman School of Business to develop an MBA student subcommittee to support SRIAC's work. Possible coursework will include analyzing the green bonds portfolio and making recommendations to the SRIAC related to the value and “impact” of various investments in the operating reserves pool. This is an innovative and exciting educational opportunity for students at the Grossman Business School.
These recommendations have been accepted by the Vice President for Finance and beginning this summer, the University will move forward in setting up a green bonds portfolio with positive screens on these investments. Though small, this is a strong step forward, increasing the impact of investments at UVM.
AASHE Sustainability Tracking and Rating System (STARS)
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) STARS is a framework that guides and tracks sustainability progress on campuses across the country. In 2017, the University of Vermont earned enough points to be awarded the Gold designation, the second highest designation in the STARS system.
The STARS framework is organized into three main sections - Education, Operations, and Planning and Administration.
Under Planning and Administration, the subheading Investments guides and tracks progress on socially responsible investing. In this category, the University of Vermont has earned 3.01 points out of a total of 7 points for the existence of a Socially Responsible Investing Advisory Council, and a small amount of positive investments. The full report can be found on the AASHEE website. The Socially Responsible Investing Advisory Committee is using STARS to guide their goals and decisions on socially responsible investing at UVM. Read more about UVM's STARS ratings.