MICA Board’s Response to Campus Advocates for Sustainability and Social Justice - October 21, 2020

As MICA trustees, we recognize the importance of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues as they relate to sustainability and the social impact of companies. We believe it is important for MICA to define and assert its role as a part of an effective response. Our commitment to our Mission and Vision permit us to do no less. We also believe that it is important for MICA to focus on our investment practices and policies as we decide how we can best contribute to an effective response to these issues.

As the governing body of the College, the Board of Trustees is ultimately responsible for MICA’s fiscal health. It is our duty to manage the College’s resources to ensure that they are used to advance MICA’s Mission and values now and for future generations of students and faculty. When making investment decisions for the College, we are mindful of the social and environmental implications. With that said, we recognize that there is still much work to be done.

Currently, there is a focus on the impact of fossil fuel companies on climate change, and we agree. Therefore, MICA’s endowment will not hold or make direct investments in stocks of fossil fuel companies. At the same time, ESG issues affect all industries and we are committed to managing MICA’s endowment in a way that considers this broad spectrum of issues. Therefore, MICA commits to integrate participation by investment managers in the internationally recognized Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) into the review and selection of investment managers for MICA’s endowment. The PRI is a United Nations supported international network of institutional investors working together with a goal of “understanding the implications of ESG issues for investors and facilitating the incorporation of these issues into their investment decision-making and investment practices. In implementing these principles, signatories contribute to the development of a more sustainable and equitable global financial system.”

We believe that adoption of the PRI framework for investment decisions will allow us to provide responsible stewardship of MICA's resources in a manner that is thoughtful, intentional, and consistent with the College’s Mission and Vision.

At the same time, as part of a holistic approach, we are committed to continuing operational investments to reduce our carbon footprint and support de-carbonization and climate resilience while investing in the education of the next generation of creative leaders who will drive positive change in the years to come. MICA has a broad range of sustainability initiatives in place, which are continuing to expand. Among them are MICA’s comprehensive recycling program that includes electronic and hazardous waste disposal, composting initiatives, use of renewable energy, energy efficient building projects, green cleaning materials, reduction of solid waste, LED lighting, support of electric and hybrid vehicles, use of organic fertilizers, and
sustainable dining practices.

MICA’s commitment is also present in the curriculum. The Concentration in Sustainability and Social Practice —the first of its kind among art colleges—prepares students to engage their creative practice with the social and ecological issues facing the world today. The College will also be offering a new undergraduate major in Ecosystems, Society, and Justice (Sustainability, Equity, and Environment) in the very near future.

We recognize that an effective response will require a long-term commitment, and we are committed to continuing to adapt our approach to changing and evolving circumstances. In this spirit, MICA has pledged to establish a comprehensive and ambitious institutional Climate Action program as part of its 2026 Strategic Plan. This will include a review of MICA’s current practices by an independent outside firm, adopting a plan for reducing the College’s carbon footprint, and the creation of an Office of Sustainability. Reporting directly to the Vice President of Operations and Finance, the Office will lead, coordinate, and oversee all aspects of the College’s climate change initiatives. One objective of the Climate Action program is for MICA to develop a plan to achieve carbon neutrality.

We believe that being intentional and proactive about our endowment investments, operational investments, and curriculum, constitute, by far, the most significant and enduring ways for us to contribute to the world in which we live.

The MICA Board of Trustees