February 3, 2007

U of C decides not to divest from Sudan

Zimmer released the decision today:

After lengthy discussions on this topic, the Board determined that it would not change its investment policy or its longstanding practice of not taking explicit positions on social and political issues that do not have a direct bearing on the University. The Board believes that the University of Chicago’s distinctive profile in higher education and its greatest potential for influencing social and political issues is determined by its unyielding commitment to free inquiry and to fostering a community of scholars with a great diversity of perspectives. The Board reaffirmed the principles on taking institutional positions on social and political issues articulated in the Kalven Report that have served the University well and can be expected to do so in the decades ahead if followed assiduously. The Board also shared the widely held view that the University should seek to identify means to contribute to greater understanding of the conflict in Sudan in ways consonant with the University’s mission, with the hope of adding value to ongoing efforts to end this international crisis. The Board left it to the Administration to consider how to proceed in this regard.It is clear that at our University programs that could be developed or enhanced to meet this goal would need to arise out of the interest and work of faculty and students. With that in mind, through University resources and the personal financial contribution of the Chair of the Board, I have established a fund initially in the amount of $200,000, to be administered by the Provost, which will support faculty and student work and activities on these issues. The Provost will develop and promulgate guidelines for the fund, which I hope will encourage creative and entrepreneurial thinking about University-based activities that will broaden knowledge and help prepare our students — through real world experiences and scholarly work — to advance human rights and the well-being of people around the world.I understand that the decision not to divest will be a disappointment to some, especially to the students who have given great time, thought, and energy to their proposal. At the same time, the campus deliberations on this topic have reaffirmed for me the extraordinary value in our University’s commitment to engaging the broadest range of perspectives. This is a commitment we must attend to and promote if the University is to maintain an environment of open discourse and extend its rich history of influencing social and political values across the globe through the work of its faculty, students, and alumni. [Emphasis added]
Essentially the Board of Trustees values the U of C's ability to promote open discourse more than the impact their divestment could have had on the genocide in Darfur. I can definitely see where the University is coming from here, and in a way, proud that they took a principled stand against so much public pressure.