According to a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, three trustees on Bowdoin's Board are partners at investment firms that manage portions of the College's endowment. The article, which investigated the prevalence of business relationships between trustees and their colleges, found that of the 618 private colleges researched, one-fourth of them "have financial ties with trustee-affiliated companies."
President Barry Mills confirmed the College's financial engagement with three of its trustees' companies.
"It is true that Bowdoin has invested in the past and currently invests with managers related to its trustees," he said.
"We pay attention to conflicts of interests and potential conflicts of all types," said Mills. "I understand this was of a highly sensitized concern."
However, Mills said that the investments are appropriate and beneficial for the College.
"I am confident that the College is being well-served making these investments," he said. "They are excellent investment opportunities."
According to Mills, these investments help the College gain access to funds that would otherwise be difficult to access.
"With the heightened tensions of conflict of interest, one has to be highly concerned about the importance of doing business in appropriate ways," said Mills.
According to Mills, the College's Conflict of Interest policy requires every trustee and employee of the College to disclose any relationship they may have to Bowdoin.
The 45-member Board of Trustees consists of President Mills, alumni and parents voted in by a selection process. The Board is responsible for the governance of the College and allotment of the endowment funds.
Mills could not remember whether the trustees were voted in and then the investment was made or whether investments had been made prior to the selection of the trustees in question.
Generally, trustees are selected by other trustees after careful review based on the recommendations from alumni. Mills said that there are certain circumstances where the relationships to Bowdoin are highly considered when asking to become a College trustee.
Whenever the College makes any investment, all of the research is done "to make the right decision," said Mills.
Mills also said that the investment decision should be independent and "a justifiable action on its own merit."
"It is absolutely true that whenever doing business, we treat it as if doing business with an independent person," said Mills.
"Most things at the College are done by a consensus," said Mills. "Rarely do we have split-party votes."