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02-26-2015

Clarkson University Commits to Socially Responsible Endowment Investments

Clarkson University has committed $5 million of its endowment as an initial investment in a social responsibility fund.

From left to right, Clarkson University MBA student Douglass Johnson and global supply chain management student Lunara Passos Silva '15 review stock market data with Associate Professor of Economics & Financial Studies Allan Zebedee. The fund, managed by the Aperio Group, has a unique way of tailoring Clarkson's investments in a manner that matches the interests and values of the campus community. This effort contributes to Clarkson’s ongoing commitment to improve sustainability on campus.

The intentionally designed endowment is a fairly new concept in academic portfolio management, involving aligning investment portfolios with institutional mission, values and sustainability goals, without sacrificing returns.

The new fund targets companies that have policies and products that are proactive from a socially responsible standpoint and excludes companies in business sectors that are not consistent with Clarkson's community values.

Positive attributes include pollution abatement, environmental innovations, human rights and climate change, while exclusions include businesses that promote tobacco, adult entertainment and animal testing. These attributes were identified based on a campus-wide survey that solicited the opinions of employees and students.

A wide range of companies are included in the new portfolio, including Microsoft, Apple, Walt Disney, Coca Cola and Verizon.

The initial investment represents approximately three percent of Clarkson's endowment. The University's goal is to track the success of this investment for a sufficient time to calm fears that socially responsible investments (SRI) result in reduced financial returns.

The University’s Statement of Investment Beliefs represents the understanding that these types of investments are indeed fiscally responsible and consistent with Clarkson's mission to support students as they enter the workforce.

"The Student Managed Investment Fund members work with the SRI committee to demonstrate the real impact students can have on the financial future of Clarkson," said Douglass Johnson, Clarkson MBA student and Student Managed Investment Fund member. "The committee asked for and used our input to make a significant investment decision that represents the Clarkson community. This involvement has increased my interest in the endowment's performance and the financial position of the University."

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: From left to right, Clarkson University MBA student Douglass Johnson and global supply chain management student Lunara Passos Silva '15 review stock market data with Associate Professor of Economics & Financial Studies Allan Zebedee. Student Managed Investment Fund members are working with the Socially Responsible Investments Committee as part of Clarkson's ongoing commitment to improve sustainability on campus.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/social-responsibility-fund.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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