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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

CEER members chosen, meet to discuss goals

Published: November 6, 2009
Section: News

The Committee on Endowment Ethics and Responsibility (CEER) had their first meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss their main goals for the year.

The committee also discussed information they currently have on the endowment and what crucial issues they would approach Exevutive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jeffery C. Apfel.

Several members on CEER are economics or business majors, which led them to be interested personally in where the endowment was invested and therefore to applying for their positions, said Co-Chair of CEER Beau Bonness ’11.

The main issue facing CEER is that most of the university’s endowment is invested in mutual funds and the university contractually is not allowed to disclose what companies are involved in those funds, explained Bonness.

This could prove an obstacle to the committee, whose mission is to increase transparency surrounding the university endowment.

“For an institution based on social justice, with a motto ‘truth even unto its innermost parts,’ that should be evident in what and how our endowment is run. Knowledge about these things is extremely important,” said Bonness. “[CEER] understands why we can’t be allowed access to all the information regarding the endowment, and we don’t want to question what companies are being invested with or why because [the mutual funds] have been successful.”

The main reason for creating CEER was due to an “F” grade on, said Bonness. “Major universities such as Rutgers, where Apfel previously worked ,and Amherst College allow large amounts of endowment transparency to their community and we would like the same.”

“It is important for our community to know what’s going on; alumni who donate want to be assured that their money is invested ethically and in a morally responsible way,” said Bonness.

The committee has yet to define what ethically and morally responsible is in their eyes, but hope to accomplish this in the coming weeks. Bonness said the Committee seems to agree with Apfel on its goals.

“We seem to be on the same page about not only discussing change, but seeing it,” said Bonness. CEER plans to meet once a week, but could potentially increase depending on “to what degree stuff starts getting done,” said Bonness.