The administration’s response to the fossil fuel divestment proposal ("1.4% of College's endowment invested in fossil fuels") raised far more questions than it answered. Unfortunately, it also publically confirmed that Bowdoin’s official strategy is to maintain investment policies with no regard for environmental issues, while promoting its environmental achievements to alumni, students and grant agencies. Why do I care? During the recession I began speaking with the Development Office about the possibility of coordinating a family gift to the endowment to support the College’s environmental programs. My wife and I both went to Bowdoin, and as members of her family have attended Bowdoin for at least five continuous generations, I felt there was significant support for such a family gift. However, I also wanted at least some confirmation, however modest, that our funds would be invested in keeping with the College’s Environmental Mission Statement. After several months of waiting, I received only the short reply that “the Bowdoin College Endowment is Invested Responsibly.” I asked for examples, policies or data to support this assertion and none were provided. At that point, we discontinued our discussion of a family gift. So what’s wrong with the statement from President Mills and Paula Volent, senior vice president for investments, provided to the Orient?
The Iraqi Refugee Assistance Program (IRAP) offices at the Urban Justice Center are located on the ninth floor of a low budget office building on the southern tip of Manhattan. The red brick building, which Hurricane Sandy hit hard almost three months ago, still shows signs of wear from the superstorm. I entered the building through a temporary entrance hidden by scaffolding and blue tarps. For five days over winter break, I rode the R-train for 45 minutes down to Rector Street from my safe Upper East Side neighborhood to volunteer as an IRAP intern. Within minutes of walking into the dark, empty, no frills offices to introduce myself to IRAP co-founder Becca Heller, a 2010 Yale Law School graduate, and I was put to work preparing briefs on the conditions of Iraqi refugees due for presentation the next day at the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in Washington, D.C. Over 10,000 Iraqis have been displaced by war and resettled in squalid refugee camps for years and are in desperate need of assistance.
Upated Feb. 18
Karen Mills, wife of President Barry Mills, announced this morning that she is stepping down as administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA).“After four years as Administrator of the SBA, I have let President Obama know that I will not be staying for a second term. I will stay on until my successor is confirmed to ensure a smooth and seamless transition,” Mills wrote in a message to SBA colleagues.As SBA administrator, Mills worked to support small businesses and entrepreneurs nationwide. President Obama appointed Mills to the position in January 2009, and elevated her to the cabinet in January 2012. Prior to joining the Obama administration, Mills served as president of the MMP Group, a private equity firm based in Brunswick. She is also a founding partner of the private equity firm Solera Capital.
Mills is considered a potential candidate for Maine’s 2014 gubernatorial race, but said she had not yet considered a future political career.
In the past few months, divestment has evolved from a burgeoning movement on a handful of college campuses to a nationwide effort, though only three schools have agreed to divest their endowments from fossil fuels thus far. At Bowdoin, members of Green Bowdoin Alliance (GBA) have scaled up their efforts to push the College on the issue, and submitted a formal proposal last week that urges President Barry Mills and the Board of Trustees to divest from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies within the next five years. In a joint statement provided to the Orient on Wednesday, Mills and Paula Volent, senior vice president for investments, wrote that approximately 1.4 percent of Bowdoin’s endowment is invested in these 200 companies. The College invests in them through large commingled funds that contain hundreds of other stocks. Divesting from fossil fuels would require a turnover of over 25 percent of the endowment, according to the statement.
Less than three months after the project began, electrical and mechanical work is beginning on the new Longfellow Arts Building. On schedule to be completed by August 2013, the project is will transform the old Longfellow Elementary School into a new hub for art studios, offices and gallery space. The building is currently 38,000 square feet but will be expanded to 44,000 square feet and will include a digital media lab, a woodshop, a printmaking studio, a dance studio, gallery spaces, faculty offices and studio space for drawing, painting, sculpture and other visual arts classes.