On the Friday, the 25th of July, the ANU Council held its fourth meeting of 2014.

ABOUT THE COUNCIL

The Council is the ANU’s highest governing body and is responsible for:

  • appointing the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor.
  • the corporate governance and strategic direction of the university
  • approving the university’s annual budget
  • monitoring the university’s commercial activity
  • legislating university statutes

The Council consists of fifteen members, including, amongst others:

  • Chancellor, Gareth Evans
  • Vice-Chancellor, Ian Young
  • Pro-Chancellor, Robin Hughes
  • Member of the ANU Finance Committee, Dr Doug McTaggart
  • ANUSA President, Cam Wilson
  • PARSA President, Ben Niles
  • Professor Pat Dodson, who is also the first indigenous member of Council

COUNCIL AGENDA FOR THE 25TH OF JULY

The Council meeting’s agenda consists of confidential and non-confidential items. Observers and the press are only allowed to observe the meeting when non-confidential items are being discussed. Non-confidential items that were on the agenda are as follows:

SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT POLICY REPORT

Chris Grange reported on the ANU’s newly developed SRI Policy, which is a response to the ANU Fossil Free’s 3-year campaign for the university’s divestment from the carbon market.

Grange reports that, this week, the ANU has finalised a contract with an ethical research investment service for $10,000. The service will undertake an assessment of the ANU’s domestic equities. The assessment will give each of the ANU’s 40 Australian stocks a rating based on; environmental criteria such as climate change and biodiversity; social governance of the company; and strengths and weaknesses of the company with respect to human rights.

A sample report of an SRI assessment of Santos, a company in which the ANU is a shareholder, was available but official numbers and indicators were withheld at the behest of Gareth Evans.

With regard to the ANU’s international equities portfolio, Grange reported that the university does not choose individual stocks. The ANU leaves decisions in its international portfolio to the discretion of half a dozen specialised financial managers. SRI research will also be conducted for these agents to determine if their mandate from the ANU should be changed in any way.

Grange says that the reports are “remarkably substantive” and have provided the ANU’s Investment Advisory Committee with a “stock of information [they] have never had before”. Graeme Samuel, Chair of the ANU’s Finance Committee, states that the ANU will “hopefully…be best practice” in ethical investment with this new policy. The ANU has promised to act on these SRI reports by October.

Following Chris Grange’s report, Joshua Creaser from ANU Fossil Free was invited to make a statement to the Council.

THE CRAWFORD SCHOOL AUSTRALIAN LEADERSHIP FORUM

Chancellor Gareth Evans reported on the success of the Crawford School’s two-day leadership forum. The purpose of the forum was to fulfil the ANU’s third objective – to be a major contributor to the national policy debate – and to brand the Crawford School as a leading public policy establishment.

The two-day conference was attended by 150 delegates, ranging from research leaders, to politicians, department directors, and NGO officials. There were 55 speakers for the forums various breakfasts, lectures and plenary sessions.

Chancellor Gareth Evans noted two important improvements that should be made to next year’s forum. Firstly, Evans was conscious of a lack of focus on social issues, as the forum emphasised geopolitical and economic issues. Secondly, Evans noted the absence of business leaders from the forum and hoped that the Business Council of Australia will have more involvement in future.

ALUMNI RELATIONS AND PHILANTHROPY

Colin Taylor, Director of Alumni Relations and Philanthropy, reported to the Council on progress in the ANU’s burgeoning campaign for more philanthropy geared towards increasing the university’s funds.

Alumni Relations and Philanthropy has been conducting a number of headline projects. One of them is an ‘annual giving”’project which appeals to ANU graduates and asks them to give something back to the university. Money from this appeal will be put into a fund which will be dispensed at the discretion of a committee that is yet to be chosen or created.

One other important project is the review of the ANU’s international alumni relations structure. This includes categorising alumni based on their net capacity to give. 88 alumni were identified as belonging in the highest category, capable of giving over $ 1 million. The highest category also has an estimated net worth of $12 billion.

NAMING POLICY FOR FACILITIES AND SERVICES

Colin Taylor, who is also the Director of Endowment for Excellence, reported on developments of ANU’s policy for naming physical assets (such as buildings, lecture theatres, etc.) and non-physical assets (such as scholarships, Chairs and lectures). A coherent policy is needed as the university receives approximately four applications per week for a structure to be named.