Letter to Trustees Regarding Divestment from Fossil Fuels

February 15, 2017

Dear Trustees:

In my role in the shared governance of Grinnell College, I have the responsibility to keep the Board apprised of recommendations about the direction of the College from the various College constituencies. In that role, I would like to inform you that a substantial number of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents have expressed their opinion to me that Grinnell College should divest its endowment of all fossil-fuels-related investments.

A strong academic community respects the right of all members of the community to have differing opinions, and encourages civil debate on the merits of any issue. Global warming is widely acknowledged by the scientific community as one of the greatest threats facing our society today. Divestment from fossil fuel companies has been proposed as one method of pressuring these businesses to accelerate our society’s elimination of its dependence on fossil fuels. 

Over the last several years, there has been considerable debate on campus and among leadership and the Board about divestment as a tactic to address global warming and its potential impact on the mission of the college. The debate is recurring with greater and greater frequency. Last fall a group of students made a request to the Board to divest from fossil fuels, and earlier this month approximately 150 students gathered at Nollen House to protest the College's investments in fossil fuels and call for complete divestment of these assets.

I encourage students and others who have been advocating divestment to work together to develop a written proposal as described in the Board of Trustees Investment Committee’s newly adopted sub-policy on divestment.

I am confident the Investment Committee and the entire Board of Trustees will seriously consider the request to divest from fossil fuels.

The Board has received my request to create a donor-requested fund that would enable future donors to have their contributions to the endowment invested in a separately managed endowment fund that would be free of all fossil-fuel investments.


Raynard S. Kington, President

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