$30bn Harvard endowment to hire sustainable investing vice president

New role working with CEO Mendillo welcomed by student groups

Harvard Management Company (HMC), the asset manager of the $30.7bn (€23bn) endowment of the US university, has created a new position for a Vice President of Sustainable Investing, who will oversee environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.

The role reports to Harvard’s Chief Compliance Officer Kathryn Murtagh and will work closely with CEO Jane Mendillo. The new role will “work with investment professionals within HMC across asset classes to analyze how ESG issues are currently integrated into the investment process and suggest enhancements where appropriate” the job spec adds.

The new vice president will support the Harvard University’s Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility (CCSR) and serve as a primary liaison to other university offices, committees, and constituents on ESG/investor responsibility issues. The successful candidate will have experience of working in investment management.

“We are long-term investors, and that means we are concerned with sustainability and stewardship,” Mendillo said in a statement quoted by the Boston Globe.

It comes amid the 350.org campaign to get universities to divest their shares in major oil and gas companies, which has also been taken up by Harvard students.

The move was welcomed by Responsible Investment at Harvard, the group of students and others who want Harvard to manage and invest its endowment more responsibly.“We expect that the new Vice President for Sustainable Investing will examine whether or not Harvard’s private equity and other holdings align with the University’s established policies, such as paying workers a living wage and promoting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” said Harvard College senior Mike Danto.

In December last year Harvard announced it would create a ‘social choice’ fund. On February 13, a student referendum calling on Harvard to seed the new fund with 0.1% of the endowment received 93% support.

“Even though Harvard has taken these steps, it has yet to sign on to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, an international standard for best practices in ESG analysis,” the Responsible Investment at Harvard group added.

“We are thrilled to see the world’s wealthiest educational institution acknowledge the need to implement responsible investment practices,” Responsible Endowments Coalition Executive Director Dan Apfel said. “I expect to see a ripple effect around the country as other institutions follow suit to stay competitive.”

Last month the Harvard Institutional Investor Roundtable brought together the top governance officers of leading public pension funds, mutual funds, and other institutional investors, both from the US and from elsewhere. Job ad