Bowdoin received mixed reviews in a report released last week by the Sustainable Endowments Institute (SEI), scoring perfect marks for "campus management," while earning significantly lower grades for "endowment investments."

The report examined the 100 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada with the largest endowments. Bowdoin got an overall grade of "B-."

In its first annual College Sustainability Report Card, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, organization evaluated colleges based on seven categories.

Four of the categories were based on what the report termed "campus management": climate change and energy, green building, food and recycling, and administration. The other three categories were related to specific endowment policies: endowment transparency, investment priorities, and shareholder engagement.

While Bowdoin received "A" grades for all categories concerning campus management, it earned a "C" in investment priorities and two failing grades for endowment transparency and shareholder engagement.

Though SEI Executive Director Mark Orlowski articulated the importance of endowment transparency and shareholder engagement at Bowdoin, he praised the College for its efforts to promote sustainability at the campus level.

"I think that Bowdoin should be applauded for its efforts in terms of sustainability on campus," he said.

Katherine Kirklin '07, a leader of Clean Energy Now, a student environmental advocacy group, was also pleased with the results of the campus management section of the report. She cited a green building policy and the purchase of 100 percent renewable electricity as evidence of progress.

"There is much to be proud of, and it is evident from my work with other colleges and universities in the Northeast that Bowdoin has distinguished itself as an environmental leader," Kirklin wrote in an e-mail to the Orient.

Both Kirklin and Orlowski expressed optimism that high marks for campus management would further encourage innovation and make the College more environmentally friendly.

"The capacities that we have developed thus far should only motivate us to work harder on these important issues," Kirklin said.

"If their effort stops now, I think that in five years, Bowdoin will probably not get 'A's. They have to keep at it," Orlowski said.

The endowment segment of the report, in which Bowdoin received lower grades, did not rate the College specifically on the size or growth of its endowment.

Bowdoin's endowment, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) is valued at more than $673 million and earned a return rate of 18.1 percent for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006.

While the investment priorities category acknowledged that Bowdoin "prioritizes investing to maximize profit," the SEI chiefly examined specific endowment policies at Bowdoin.

According to the report, Bowdoin "has no known policy of disclosure of endowment holdings or its shareholder voting record" and "has not made any public statements about active ownership or a proxy voting policy." Therefore, the College received "Fs" in the endowment transparency and shareholder engagement categories.

Senior Vice President for Investments Paula Volent maintains that allowing students or staff access to specific details about the endowment would raise a number of legal issues.

"We cannot legally provide information about the endowment to the public," she said.

Orlowski thinks that Bowdoin should make efforts to become more transparent.

"I think it would open up new avenues for learning and new educational communities on campus," he said. "I would recommend that Bowdoin study peer institutions?places like Williams or Middlebury?to see if current endowment policies [at Bowdoin] make sense or if they should change."

At Williams, a list of investment holdings is available to the campus at the investment office or the vice's president's office. Its college proxy voting record is also available on a password protected Web site.

Middlebury does not make its endowment holdings public, but an Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investment, created in 2006, includes faculty, staff, and students. The committee makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees regarding investments.

According to the SEI report, because "Bowdoin has not made any public statements about investigating or investing in renewable energy funds or community development loan funds," the College received a "C" in the investment priorities category.

Community development loan funds, according to Orlowski, "strengthen communities by providing things like affordable housing."

Volent, however, said such investments would be inappropriate for the College's endowment.

"I don't think the endowment is the right platform for community investment," Volent said. "Our main goal is to maximize returns on our investments."

Orlowski pointed out that the report did not take into account whether colleges had investments in unstable regions or in controversial industries.

"We didn't take Darfur into account, and individual holdings like tobacco were not examined," he said.

Next year's report may include another 50 or 100 schools, according to Orlowski.

"I'm excited to see a lot of change and improvement for next year from participating schools," he said.