In October, the Office of Communications and Public Affairs went all out with a humorous set of posters advertising the Tanner Conference. And its efforts worked: There were no sad presenters at Tanner, just students speaking to packed rooms. The conference brings the community together to learn about student experiences in internships, study abroad, civic engagement, and other opportunities, and attendees this year could choose from 49 panels with 239 presenters. Among the speakers were Eve Montie ’20 and Christine Burns ’20, who were interns at the Lobkowicz Collections, the largest privately owned art collection in the Czech Republic. They got hands-on museum experience doing everything from cleaning and cataloguing works to marketing. “As a senior considering various career paths,” Burns says, “this internship narrowed my field of search because I realized how much I love the hands-on, collaborative, and flexible environment that comes with working at small-scale institutions.”
Students and faculty raised their voices during the fall semester to call for the College’s divestment from fossil fuel companies. In December, students presented a petition with more than 600 signatures to President Paula Johnson, and the following week, the faculty overwhelmingly passed the following resolution:
“We believe that the dangers of climate change are urgent enough that we cannot go on doing business as usual, and we support those who take action against the existential threat climate change presents. For this reason, we believe Wellesley College should join other institutions that have made commitments … to divest from fossil fuel companies. Wellesley has the opportunity to be a leader on this issue.
“We recognize that divestment will impose tangible constraints on the investment office’s tools for managing the College’s endowment and that it may entail some costs for the College. Nonetheless, we believe that divestment by the College would contribute importantly to the growing national and international consensus that action must be taken in response to climate change. Accordingly, we are willing as a community to manage these potential costs in order to make the statement that we view divestment as a moral imperative.”
Deborah Foye Kuenstner ’80, the College’s chief investment officer, is leading an assessment of the ways climate change will affect the College’s endowment portfolio over the next decades, with special focus on energy investments. The Wellesley College Board of Trustees’ Subcommittee on Investment Responsibility was to hear proposals for action regarding the endowment from the community at its February meeting, and if the investment committee so recommends, the full board could take up the topic later in the year.
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