Virginia Wesleyan’s investing turns green for the future

Virginia Wesleyan University (VWU) recently selected Brown Advisory as its outsourced Chief Investment Officer, or oCIO. Based in Maryland, Brown Advisory is one of 100 members of the Intentional Endowments Network (IEN), which will serve to help VWU maintain its goal of environmental stewardship.

According to a Nota Bene sent out in mid-October, this network is “a group committed to investing for an equitable, low-carbon, and regenerative economy.” The VWU Board of Trustees hopes this will lead to sustainable
investments that comply with the Environmental Guiding Principles adopted in 2020.

The IEN website has resources for institutions and organizations wishing to mobilize capital in a sustainable manner, while addressing inequality and climate change as they affect their communities. It also recognizes VWU’s
Batten Honors College as a fundamental component of the endowment, noting its investment in environmental, social and governance criteria with Brown Advisory. identifies complex capital markets, tough regulatory oversight, high donor expectations and lower expected market returns as the primary challenges investors face. Through advice and connections, the
board aims to facilitate relations and investments while empowering clients to take steps toward more sustainable practices.

The website also lists the board’s various strategies for tackling environmental issues while keeping in mind conditions such as equities, income and funding. Board members and writers produce informative articles for current and prospective clients to read and incorporate
in their own investment and growth strategies. Thanks to Brown Advisory’s global reach, these articles have even been considered by higher levels of the government.

Across the country, students at universities including Yale, Ohio State, University of Maryland and even Harvard have been protesting their universities’ investments in fossil fuels, demanding action be taken to invest in sustainability instead. VWU is one of the few universities in the US to align its endowment investments with its mission, joining the ranks of  nationally recognized sustainable universities such as MIT.

With the growing number of schools moving toward greener investments, there has also been greater push for students to take the lead. VWU encourages students to be active leaders and changemakers before and after
graduation with organizations such as Marlins Go Green and partnerships with the Norfolk Botanical Garden, Virginia Aquarium and more.

Studies conducted by multiple universities have shown that student leadership in sustainability and conservation efforts leads to better promotion and implementation of projects on campuses and increased professional success for the students involved. In particular, the University
of Rochester published an article in March 2021 on the importance of student involvement in the promotion of sustainable behavior.

In congruence with this, Brown Advisory has options for individuals to join and contribute to the firm’s efforts in addition to organizations and institutions. Individual services include fiduciary services, specialized planning and investment solutions. Similarly, services for institutions and endowments primarily involve strategic planning and advice.

Their focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) research promotes their values of equal sustainability through risk assessment and impact generation through portfolios.



Image Courtesy of Brown Advisory