Brown University’s Corporation

An Honest Vote on Divestment:
There are at least five Corporation members with conflicts of interest who should recuse themselves

In one week, Brown University’s Corporation will be meeting to discuss and likely vote on whether or not our University should continue to profit from the fifteen largest coal companies. This decision is critical: for those suffering in communities impacted by mountaintop removal, for the millions who will be hit by hurricanes and natural disasters worse than Katrina and Sandy, and for the global community that will have to respond to the countless damages that will be wrought because we have changed the temperature and composition of our atmosphere. This decision will also have implications for our community’s trust in Brown to reflect our values. Will the statements from our faculty, researchers, University committees, student groups, and petition signatures be heard? Will we take this responsibility and opportunity to act seriously, or will we be another Harvard, too committed to the status quo to take action against the worst environmental disaster humanity has ever faced? Are we “Boldly Brown” or something else?

With such an important vote, it is crucial that the integrity of the Corporation’s decision-making process be respected. As the Brown University Conflict of Interest and Commitment Policy reads, “All decisions and actions taken by members of the Brown community in the conduct of University business shall be made in a manner that promotes the best interests of Brown University. Members of the Brown community have an obligation to address both the substance and the appearance of conflicts of interest and commitment and, if they arise, to disclose them to the appropriate University representative and withdraw from debate, voting, or other decision-making process where a conflict of interest exists or might arise.”1

According to this policy, several members of the Corporation who have clear connections to the fifteen coal companies considered for divestment should recuse themselves from any “debate, voting, or other decision-making process” concerning divestment from coal. These members are:

Brian T. Moynihan: Moynihan is on Brown’s Board of Trustees and is the president and CEO of Bank of America2, which has $1 billion worth of holdings in 14 of the 15 companies that Brown is considering for divestment as of August 14, 2013.3
Richard A. Friedman: Friedman is on the Board of Fellows of Brown University’s Corporation and is head of the Merchant Banking Division at Goldman Sachs4, which has $1.1 billion invested in 14 of the 15 companies that Brown is considering for divestment as of August 14, 2013.5
Steven A. Cohen: Cohen is on Brown University’s Board of Trustees, and is the founder and hedge fund manager of SAC Capital6, which has $33,597,000 in holdings in 11 of the 15 coal companies Brown University is considering divestment from as of August 14, 2013.7
Theresia Gouw: Gouw is a member of Brown’s Board of Fellows and is a partner at Accel Partners8. Accel-KKR, a partnership between Accel Partners and KKR, is a cofounder of globalCOAL, a global coal trading platform9. Licensed users of globalCoal include Arch Coal, Peabody Energy, and Cloud Peak, all companies targeted for divestment.10
Todd A. Fisher: Fisher is on Brown University’s Board of Trustees and is KKR & CO. L.P.’s Global Chief Administrative Officer11. Accel-KKR is a cofounder of globalCOAL.12
The documents verifying these connections come from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the companies’ websites; full documentation of the investment information has been compiled below the footnotes.

We recognize that these five members may not be the only Corporation members with ties to the 15 coal companies; there may be other connections that we are currently unaware of. This vote is of utmost importance to our community: it is a statement of who we are as a University and what our values are, and thus we ask that any Corporation member with ties to these fifteen coal companies make a public statement of recusal from all decision-making processes hereafter concerning divestment from coal, including voting. Because the minutes from Corporation meetings are only released 25 years after the meeting13, a public statement is the only way that the Brown University community will know that this decision is made with our best interest in mind. If public statements of recusal are not made, and, behind closed doors and with personal and company profits at stake, the Corporation votes against divestment, any notion that the Corporation can be trusted to make decisions on behalf of our community will be lost. Our University is more important than company profits and personal gain, and we ask that the members of the Corporation respect that. Brian T. Moynihan, Richard A. Friedman, Steven A. Cohen, Theresia Gouw, Todd A. Fisher, and any other corporation members with ties to these fifteen companies: we’re waiting for your statements of recusal.

Corporate Investment Info:

The numbers compiled here come from 13F-HR filings, which were filed by the companies to the Securities and Exchange Commission(SEC) detailing their holdings that quarter. The total value of holdings each company had in each of the fifteen coal companies Brown is considering divestment from was calculated, along with a total value of all the holdings each company has in the fifteen coal companies considered for divestment.

Bank of America (Brian T. Moynihan):
SEC Filing: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/70858/000114036113032941/0001140361-13-032941-index.htm
Filing Date: 08/14/2013
American Electric Power: $88,329,000
Ameren: $88,329,000
Duke: $122,194,000
Dominion: $200,831,000
Xcel: $141,666,000
Southern Company: $173,502,000
NRG: $18,052,000
PPL: $211,888,000
FirstEnergy: $36,489,000
Arch Coal: $36,489,000
Alpha: $6,975,000
Peabody: $19,254,000
Cloud Peak: $1,318,000
Consol: $8,642,000
Total held in companies considered for divestment: $1,047,062,000

Goldman Sachs (Richard A. Friedman):
SEC Filing: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/886982/000076999313000444/0000769993-13-000444-index.htm
Filing Date: 08/14/2013
American Electric Power: $60,855,000
Ameren: $42,713,000
Duke: $153,087,000
Dominion: $102,938,000
Xcel: $209,219,000
Southern Company: $131,255,000
NRG: $32,723,000
PPL: $303,013,000
FirstEnergy: $64,851,000
Arch Coal: $15,273,000
Alpha: $12,392,000
Peabody: $26,681,000
Cloud Peak: $842,000
Consol: $12,333,000
Total held in companies considered for divestment: $1,168,175,000

SAC Capital (Steven A. Cohen):
SEC Filing: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1451928/000114036113032820/0001140361-13-032820-index.htm
Filing Date: 08/14/2013
American Electric Power: $2,440,000
Duke: $1,611,000
Dominion: $280,000
Xcel: $1,487,000
NRG: $395,000
PPL: $294,000
FirstEnergy: $1,989,000
Arch Coal: $1,016,000
Peabody: $1,156,000
Cloud Peak: $91,000
Consol: $22,838,000
Total held in companies considered for divestment: $33,597,000

This article was originally published in the Brown Daily Herald