MIT Endowment for Divestiture
by MIT Endowment for Divestiture
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
October 15, 1986
The press release says alumni and professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced the formation of the MIT Endowment for Divestiture, a trust fund designed to pressure MIT into selling its shares of corporations doing business in South Africa. At a signing ceremony at MIT, former Eighth District Congressional candidate and MIT professor Mel King and MIT professor Willard Johnson spoke on behalf of a ten-member Board of Trustees, which also includes U.S. Representatives Howard Wolpe (D-MI) (MIT Ph.D. '62) and Bruce Morrison (D-CT) (MIT '65), 5 MIT Professors, and 6 MIT alumni. The Endowment is a charitable trust that will accept alumni contributions to MIT but withhold them from the Institute until the MIT portfolio is free of South Africa-related investments. Upon divestiture, these contributions will go to MIT; if MIT does not divest by 1994, the contributions will go instead to Amnesty International and the United Negro College Fund. In the meantime, the Endowment will be invested in the Calvert Fund, a money-market account free of South African investments. According to MIT, $160 million of MIT's endowment and other investments are in U.S. corporations with assets in South Africa. Forming the Endowment follows a year of protests at MIT. In December of 1985, the full MIT faculty recommended divestiture by a 3-to-l margin. In February 1986, students constructed a mock shantytown in front of the Student Center; it was torn down in March by campus administrators and eight students were arrested. Undergraduate and graduate student referenda called for immediate divestment. Since 1983, Endowments for Divestiture have been started at Harvard, Yale, Oberlin, Occidental, Wesleyan and Princeton. The MIT Endowment says it will reach potential alumni donors through direct mail and telephone solicitations and by establishing a presence at MIT alumni gatherings. The press release mentions the Boston chapter of TransAfrica, Philip Katz, John Carlos Correa, apartheid, Joseph Weizenbaum, John Parsons, Gretchen Kalonji, Dr. Marc Miller, and MIT President Paul Gray.
Collection: Private collection of Willard Johnson