The goal of the Smith College endowment is to provide significant, stable support to the College’s annual operating budget and to preserve the inflation-adjusted value of Smith’s assets to support the College’s future activities. The possession of significant assets entails the responsible exercise of the voting rights which come with common stock ownership. Voting rights give shareholders the opportunity to effect responsible governance of publicly owned corporations. Active shareholder engagement strengthens the relationship among endowed organizations, their capital, and the companies and communities in which they invest.
Publicly traded securities and other assets of the Smith College endowment may include the right to vote on shareholder resolutions at companies’ annual shareholders meetings. For the portion of the portfolio where Smith College is investing in pooled investment vehicles and commingled funds of third-party investment managers, the responsibility of voting the proxies is delegated to the individual third-party investment managers. Managers are expected to adopt and implement an appropriate proxy voting policy, and to undertake cost-effective actions to exercise their rights as shareholders. For the portion of the portfolio where securities are directly purchased or held on behalf of Smith (versus units of pooled investment vehicles), the responsibility of voting the proxies will be delegated to the individual managers subject to guidance regarding shareholder resolutions addressing issues of environmental and social responsibility and corporate governance from the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility. The ACIR’s guidelines will generally support reasonable and well-constructed shareholder resolutions seeking best practices in corporate governance and environmental and social responsibility.