Bacow Says Harvard Corporation Has Yet to Discuss Faculty Divestment Resolution


Nearly one month after the Faculty of Arts and Sciences overwhelmingly voted in favor of fossil fuel divestment, University President Lawrence S. Bacow said in an interview Monday that he will report back to the faculty once the Harvard Corporation — the University’s highest governing body — has considered the resolution.

“There’s been conversations with the Corporation, but the Corporation is not prepared to respond yet,” he said.

Members of the Corporation are aware of the resolution calling for Harvard to divest its $40.9 billion endowment from fossil fuel companies, but the group has yet to convene a meeting discussing the resolution, Bacow said.

“They’re aware of the vote because that gets shared with them,” he said. “But we haven’t had a Corporation meeting to actually discuss that.”


“Once the Corporation has considered it and dealt with it — as I mentioned to the FAS faculty — I will report back to the faculty,” Baccow added.

The Harvard Medical School Faculty Council also called for the University to divest from fossil fuel in a vote last month.

Last month, Georgetown University decided to divest from all of its public securities of fossil fuel companies within the next five years. Yale University’s Faculty Senate also recently held a debate on divesting its endowment from fossil fuel investments.

Bacow said that Harvard will make its own “independent decision” on divestment.

“Yale does what Yale thinks is appropriate to do, and we do what we think is appropriate for Harvard,” he said.

During Tuesday’s faculty meeting, Philosophy chair Edward J. Hall requested an update from Bacow on the Corporation’s response to divestment.

“We anticipate that the Corporation, however it responds — we hope positively, given the clarity of the community-wide call for leadership — does so in such a way as to make its reasoning public,” Hall said in the meeting.

Bacow responded in Tuesday’s meeting that the Corporation is “aware” of the resolution, but did not have time to consider it fully in its last meeting, which happened just after the February meeting during which faculty voted 179 to 20 in favor of calling for divestment.

In Monday’s interview, Bacow responded to student groups who protested his speech at the College’s annual junior parents weekend. Some of the protesters included those advocating for fossil fuel and prison divestment.

Bacow said that he was finishing his speech at the time of their protest and called the students “passionate.”

“They held their signs,” Bacow said. “I gave my talk.”

“I said that I had found Harvard undergraduates to be smart, creative, thoughtful,” he added. “And then as students held up their signs, I said, and also, as you can see, passionate. And I said, passion is good.”

—Staff writer Michelle G. Kurilla can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MichelleKurilla.

—Staff writer Ruoqi Zhang can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RuoqiZhang3.