The Phi Beta Kappa Society, Epsilon Chapter of North Carolina, has moved its endowment into sustainability focused index funds guided by environmental, social, and corporate governance factors (ESG). The UNC Greensboro chapter of the national Phi Beta Kappa organization made the switch in December 2018 after a series of discussions with members and after the Chancellor’s Sustainability Council led a year-long series of campus-wide “Conversations on Sustainable and Socially Responsible Investing.”
UNCG’s Epsilon Chapter, a recipient of the 2018 “Best Chapter” award at the Phi Beta Kappa Triennial Council in Boston, was established in 1934, and it is responsible for initiating members to the national liberal arts honor society Phi Beta Kappa. Most years at UNCG, circa 50 students are inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. Together with donations and annual dues, the Chapter uses income from the modest endowment to support student membership fees so that no student is ever unable to accept the honor bestowed upon him or her for excelling in a liberal arts degree at UNCG. Funds from the endowment are also used to provide for the annual initiation ceremony held in April. Recognizing the financial contributions of many UNCG faculty and staff over the decades, and particularly honoring the bequest of Dr. Josephine Hege (a member of the UNCG Department of History from 1941 to 1971), the chapter also provides a small number of scholarships to Phi Beta Kappa graduates for travel, enrichment, and graduate study.
The chapter discussed and researched possibilities for redirecting their investments during the fall of 2018. Chapter president Dr. Aaron S. Allen (Music and Geography, Environment, and Sustainability) led the initiative. Treasurer Dr. Dora Gicheva (Economics) and webmaster Dr. Stephen Holland (Economics) researched alternatives to the previous investment accounts, which were general and not focused on sustainability or ESG criteria. The Chapter officers discussed the alternatives, decided on the plan with Fidelity, and the membership approved unanimously the Chapter’s move into sustainability investing.