More than 30 years ago, university trustees approved their first statement on investment responsibility. It created a framework to consider whether the policies or practices of corporations in which the university might invest cause substantial social impact. With the active engagement of the university community, Johns Hopkins divested from companies doing business in South Africa in the 1980s and from tobacco companies in the 1990s.
In 2014, the Johns Hopkins University Board of Trustees reaffirmed its position on investment responsibility regarding separately invested endowment funds. Specifically, the board approved the following statement:
The primary fiduciary responsibility of the University trustees in investing and managing the University’s endowment is to maximize the financial return on those resources, taking into account the amount of risk appropriate for University investment policy. If the trustees adjudge that corporate policies or practices cause substantial social impact, they, as responsible and ethical investors, shall give independent weight to this factor in their investment policies and implementation.
Through the Committee on Investments and the President, the trustees will receive and weigh advice and recommendations by the Public Interest Investment Advisory Committee concerning social issues related to those corporations in which the Hopkins endowment is separately invested.
Reflective of that position, the university has reconvened the Public Interest Investment Advisory Committee (PIIAC).
Our students, faculty, and staff continue to engage in debate over important social issues. Most recently, PIIAC was reconvened to review a proposal submitted in December 2015 by the student group, Refuel Our Future, to divest the university’s endowment from fossil fuel companies.
PIIAC considers proposals related to separately investing endowment funds, and where appropriate, it will make recommendations to the university leadership and the Board of Trustees’ Committee on Investments.
Please see below for more information regarding PIIAC’s governance procedures and how to submit a proposal.
Questions about PIIAC? Please e-mail us at PIIAC@jhu.edu.
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