Changes made in endowment reporting

November 12, 2013

Pleas for greater transparency could be this era’s most consistent cri de coeur. It’s certainly the call of DukeOpen, a student coalition that aims to increase the transparency of the university’s endowment. And while the group’s mission hasn’t been accomplished, its calls have brought change.

In October, the board of trustees revised its approach to socially responsible investing, including expanding the membership of the Advisory Committee on Investment Responsibility, from ten to fourteen members; streamlining the process by which investment-related concerns are considered for review; and allowing DUMAC, the university’s investment arm, to make available to endowment donors the ability to have their contributions invested in a social-choice fund. The group’s recommendation for hard-copy, time-delayed disclosure of the endowment’s direct investments was not presented at the board of trustees meeting, to the group’s disappointment.

Duke has followed guidelines on socially responsible investing since 2004. Four years later, the university stopped investing in companies involved in business with the Darfur region of Sudan. In 2012, Duke adopted voting guidelines for investment in companies that could be connected to minerals typically mined in conditions of war and to human-rights abuses.