Press Release

For Immediate Release                                                                                      1 April 2016

McGill Faculty & Librarians for Divestment

The Real Costs of McGill’s Investment in Fossil-fuels: Lost Donations, Lost Credibility

Montreal, QC— 1 April 2016McGill Faculty & Librarians for Divestment expresses its grave concern over recent developments following the McGill Board of Governors decision to approve the recommendation of its Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR) to deny a student-led petition to divest the University’s endowment from the fossil-fuel industry. In its report, CAMSR found that the fossil-fuel industry does not cause grave social injury in its impact on the environment and recommended that McGill retain its investments in this industry.

At an event held today on campus at McGill, it was announced that a planned $2 million gift to the university has been withdrawn by an anonymous donor in protest over the Board’s decision to continue its investments in the fossil-fuel industry. Naghmeh Sabet, the Portfolio Manager with Scotia Wealth Management who was handling the planned gift on behalf of the donor and who spoke at the event, cited “the social injury caused by investing in fossil fuels” and the Board’s failure to adhere to “the socially responsible investing approach one would expect from those managing endowment funds” as reasons for the withdrawal of the gift.

“McGill’s leadership is demonstrating startlingly poor management skills,” said Dror Etzion, a professor in the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill. “They are alienating alumni, who are key sources of revenue; they are oblivious to evolving financial conditions; they are ignoring internal stakeholders such as students and faculty; they are not managing risk at all.  It is a textbook case of flailing leadership, and even our first-year students would easily discern these blunders.”

“Two million dollars is not pocket change,” observed Shaun Lovejoy, Professor of Physics. “Losses like this are a direct result of the Board’s decision to invest in the fossil-fuel industry, and they undermine the credibility of our teaching and research at McGill.”

The announcement came at a ceremony in which 20 McGill alumni returned their McGill degrees in protest over the Board’s approval of the CAMSR report and the university’s ongoing investment it the fossil fuel industry.

“This is a solemn occasion,” said Professor Darin Barney, Grierson Chair in Communication Studies. “I have worked my entire professional life to help students earn their degrees. To see them returned breaks my heart. This should be a wake-up call for the Board of Governors, a sign of the distance between its decision and the convictions of the community it represents.”

 “I look forward to the day that these degrees will be restored to those who earned them, when McGill divests from fossil-fuels,” said Professor Greg Mikkelson of McGill’s Department of Philosophy and School of Environment.  “Evidence and logic did not carry the day within the boardroom last week. What will it take for them to realize they made the wrong decision by remaining invested in global warming? Students occupying administrative offices, alumni giving back their degrees, donors withdrawing million-dollar gifts? –It is time for the people charged with governing this institution to stop being part of the problem, and to become part of the solution.”


McGill faculty members available for additional comment:

Prof. Shaun Lovejoy (English and French)

Department of Physics

McGill University


Prof Greg Mikkelson

Dept. of Philosophy and McGill School of Environment

McGill University


Prof. Darin Barney (English)

Dept. of Art History & Communication Studies

McGill University


Additional resources:

Report of the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility

McGill Faculty for Divestment letter

Divest McGill

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