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By Ronna Kelly, Haas School of Business | 20 September 2007
– Managing a socially responsible investment fund is one of the new
learning experiences the University of California, Berkeley's Haas
School of Business is offering its graduate students for the first time
The new Haas Socially Responsible Investment (HSRI)
Fund came about thanks to a $250,000 gift from Haas School alumnus
Charlie Michaels and his wife, Doris. Charlie Michaels earned his
undergraduate business degree at the Haas School in 1978 and now serves
as the president of Sierra Global Management, an investment management
firm in New York City.
The fund will be managed by UC Berkeley
MBA and Master's in Financial Engineering (MFE) students with the
advice of an investment advisory committee and a Haas School faculty
advisory committee. Its investment philosophy will be to achieve a
balance between financial and social or environmental performance.
Students will start investing when the fund reaches
$500,000, a goal that Haas's Kellie McElhaney expects to reach within a
few months. The center's ultimate goal is to raise the fund to $1
"To our knowledge this is the first socially
responsible investment fund at a leading U.S. business school," said
McElhaney, adjunct professor and executive director of the Haas
School's Center for Responsible Business. "We expect this experience to
train students for careers in socially responsible investing, but we
also hope that our students will take their new-found skills to
traditional Wall Street firms and raise awareness about social
responsibility issues from inside the companies."
The idea for the HSRI Fund was developed by McElhaney
and Charlie and Doris Michaels at the Social Performance Metrics
Conference, an event on metrics for corporate social responsibility
that was held at Haas School in April 2005 with the participation of
the London School of Business and Boston University.
"Doris and I
are most gratified to seed the HSRI Fund, as it gives students a chance
to apply their understanding of corporate social responsibility to real
investment decisions," Charlie Michaels said. "The fund, and hence
Haas, will also capitalize on the attractive returns coming from
investments in companies that are socially responsible and have strong
"We are tremendously grateful to
Charlie and Doris for giving our school this opportunity to do
something innovative that adds to our students' experience with
investing for both social and financial value," said Haas School Dean
To gain some theoretical footing in this kind of
investing, students managing the fund will be required to enroll in a
new elective on socially responsible investing techniques, being
offered by the Haas School for the first time this fall.
Fund exposes UC Berkeley MBA and MFE students with a keen interest in
corporate social responsibility or finance to the investing world's
complexities, challenges, and rewards - both financial and social.
group of students will be chosen by a special committee to make
investment decisions for the HSRI Fund's portfolio, taking on fund
manager and portfolio analyst roles. The students will determine
detailed socially responsible investment criteria, with a focus on
companies using sustainability principles as a core part of their
business strategies, practices and investments.
The Center for
Responsible Business will send out an annual call for applications for
the HSRI positions to all UC Berkeley MBA and MFE students. The number
of students who participate is expected to increase from five to 10 as
the fund grows.
In addition to the learning opportunities this
fund provides, the center expects that the investment data to be
gathered by the fund will help advance the methodology and the
understanding of how well socially responsible investment funds can