Universities across the nation are beginning to consider ways in which their financial investments contribute to their sustainability objectives. For its part, Duke has made significant investments in the local community and in a number of companies with products that have a positive environmental impact. Duke has also developed a mechanism for the campus community to address issues of investments that raise moral or ethical concerns.
Duke University’s endowment is managed by DUMAC, LLC. DUMAC, LLC, also manages the employees’ retirement pool and Duke University Health System’s investments, and invests much of the University’s working capital.
To provide guidance to DUMAC, LLC, Duke has established a process for addressing investments that raise moral or ethical issues. While the primary fiduciary responsibility of the Board of Trustees is to oversee the management of the University’s investment assets to maximize return, the University is interested in maintaining socially responsible investments. As such, Duke University makes special considerations for moral and ethical issues raised by members of the University community with regard to investments. An example of such action was a resolution in 2008 that prohibits Duke from making future direct investment in companies engaged in business with the government of Sudan. In 2013 the Board created a social choice fund. Read Duke’s complete Investment Responsibility Policy.
Sustainable Investment Highlights
Several of the companies in which Duke is invested that produce exemplary environmental technologies are highlighted below:
- A123 Systems – A123 Systems creates lithium ion batteries for electric cars and other applications, as well as energy storage systems for a smarter electricity grid.
- SatCon Technology Corporation – SatCon Technology Corporation develops innovative power conversion solutions and provides system design services for utility-scale renewable energy plants.
- Southwest Windpower – Southwest Windpower develops personal wind turbines for homes, sailboats, businesses, municipalities, offshore platforms, and telecom towers.
- 1366 Technologies - With the mantra “solar at the cost of coal,” 1366 Technologies develops innovative manufacturing solutions for silicon cell manufacturers, including wafer and cell technologies that may cut the cost of installed solar power by more than fifty percent.
Additional areas of environmentally sustainable investments include, but are not limited to:
- Greenhouse gas capture and carbon credit generation (coal mine methane and landfill gas capture)
- Alternative energy sources (wind, hydro, biofuels, geothermal, solar, fuel cells)
- “Smart Grid” technologies (energy consumption management software and solutions)
- Recycling (soils, metals, rubber, biomass)
- Consumer products (organic foods, recycling incentives, packaging, automobiles)
Investing in the Durham Community
Duke University has many programs dedicated to being a responsible citizen of the Durham community and investing in community development financing resources. As detailed in the University’s strategic plan, “Making a Difference,” Duke is committed to enhancing and drawing from the communities of which it is a member. Duke has supported downtown revitalization efforts through strategic redevelopment of historic buildings and investment in local economic development partners such as the Latino Credit Union and Self-Help Credit Union.
A primary goal of Duke University's Office of Durham and Regional Affairs (DARA) is to partner with the City of Durham to attract and maintain local, downtown businesses to increase employment, increase the tax base, and establish downtown Durham as a unique retail and social destination. Examples of this work include the Bull City Connector, the fare-free transit route launched in August 2010 that runs between campus, downtown and Golden Belt.
Duke University and Duke University Health System have played a major role in the revitalization of downtown Durham by locating 2,000 employees in almost 528,000 square feet of downtown office space. The University's support for downtown attractions, such as the successful Durham Performing Arts Center, helps ensure that visitors to downtown Durham will find a thriving district.
DARA also continues to lead efforts within the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership and beyond to promote affordable housing and to restore economic development in commercial corridors throughout the downtown periphery.
Duke Durham Neighborhood Partnership
The Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership (DDNP) works in the twelve neighborhoods closest to campus to improve quality of life for residents, with a focus on home ownership, school improvement, low-cost health care, and non-profit support. Since its inception, the DDNP has created opportunities for community members to collaborate with Duke on neighborhood revitalization priorities. This collaboration has taken place through neighborhood association dinners, charrettes, and meetings with Durham city and county elected leaders.
The DDNP began in 1996 as a way to engage Duke University and its people in a structured partnership with the surrounding community. Since then, Duke has been a partner and advocate on any number of housing, neighborhood and school initiatives. Through the DDNP, Duke has helped to raise more than $12 million to invest in our communities; the Office of Durham and Regional Affairs, with support from Duke senior leadership, is committed to continuing its support for the DDNP and to expanding its reach.
Community Development Partners
Latino Community Credit Union
Another important community development investment was Duke’s commitment in 2006 to deposit up to 5 million dollars in the Latino Community Credit Union (LCCU) over five years. The investment guarantees affordable financial services for low-income individuals in Durham who find it difficult to obtain loans and mortgages through conventional lending sources because they lack credit history.
The money has been deposited in million-dollar increments, to provide funding for as much as 50 mortgages, or about 200 people. LCCU dedicates the funds for low-income consumer and mortgage lending in Durham County, which is home to more than half of Duke’s work force.
Another example of Duke’s commitment to investing in the surrounding community was in 1994 when Duke loaned Self-Help Credit Union $2M to be used for homeownership in Durham and to support Self-Help’s efforts to increase homeownership opportunities in general. Self-Help used a portion of this money to subsidize the cost of developing homes in Walltown – a traditionally working-class African-American neighborhood just north of Duke’s East Campus. At the time, Walltown’s housing stock was dominated by dilapidated rental properties; the neighborhood’s common spaces were troubled by crime and drug activity; and there were few homeownership opportunities to attract new residents.
Duke’s Office of Community Affairs (specifically the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership) played an important role in building neighborhood relationships and establishing goals and plans during development. Duke also worked with Lincoln Community Health Center and Planned Parenthood to open the Walltown Neighborhood Clinic in 2005. Although it lies about a block outside the formal boundaries of Walltown, the clinic provides health services to Walltown residents.