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Vanderbilt Students Press Chancellor’s Ties to Fossil Fuels

February 2, 2022
 
 

A Vanderbilt University student advocacy group pushing the university to divest from fossil fuels has filed a complaint alleging that Vanderbilt chancellor Daniel Diermeier has oil-related conflicts of interest, the Nashville Scene reported.

The complaint, filed in conjunction with “a Vanderbilt community member,” states that Diermeier was featured on a panel at the International Pipeline Foundation virtual conference, and that his curriculum vitae lists advisory experience for ExxonMobil, Shell, BP Nicor and other fossil fuel companies.

The advocacy group is requesting that the Office of Conflict of Interest and Commitment Management investigate the potential conflict of interest, that the office submit a report of that investigation to the Audit Committee of the Board of Trust and that the university share its findings with the Vanderbilt community, according to the Nashville Scene. It is also demanding that Diermeier publicly disclose his financial relationships with fossil fuel companies.

A Vanderbilt spokesperson told the Nashville Scene that the university has received the complaint.

“We have a robust process for assessing potential conflicts and will follow our established protocols as we review the matter,” the spokesperson said.

In a previous statement to the Vanderbilt Hustler, the university’s student newspaper, Diermeier said the university adopted a “stance of principal neutrality” on fossil fuel investments.

“On the specific issue of divestment, the purpose of the endowment is not to be an advocacy tool—the purpose of the endowment is to support our students and our faculty,” Diermeier said in the statement. “Students and faculty can debate the whole issue on whether providing capital to oil and gas companies is a good idea, or whether it would be better to own shares in oil and gas companies and then use shareholder activism in order for them to change that behavior. These are good debates, and I don’t think that universities should foreclose that debate by taking a position on these issues.”

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