The Seminary's Investment Philosophy - Princeton Theological Seminary

Investment Philosophy

The Role of the Seminary and the Endowment

Princeton Theological Seminary is designed to accomplish two long-term goals: the furtherance of Christian scholarship and the training of the next generation of global leaders for the Church.

To ensure mission alignment, the Seminary focuses our efforts and operations on these central tenets: scholarship and training.

The endowment is the primary means of supporting that mission by providing generous tuition scholarships for the majority of our students, maintaining both our physical and digital campus to facilitate scholarship and learning, and funding faculty and staff salaries. The endowment’s exceptional results have been drawn from a thoughtful and well-considered long-term approach to investing.

Investment Strategy

Our investment team is committed to ensuring that our investment activities remain ethically and morally aligned with our institutional mission. This is achieved not through direct investing but by rigorously vetting potential investment partners based on a framework of mission compatibility.

Mission Compatibility Framework 

Our priority areas within this framework include the following:  

  1. Fair treatment of stakeholders
  2. Environmental stewardship
  3. Embracing diversity and inclusion
  4. Promoting peace and justice 
  5. Demonstrating a generosity that reflects their privileged positions

The Seminary actively disqualifies any potential partner who exhibits behaviors or attitudes that are not compatible with these standards.

By focusing on value alignment and mission compatibility, we hope to ensure that our partners are intrinsically motivated to generate positive social outcomes. This positive screening on the front end aims to yield several additional benefits, including:

  • The ability to manage real-world complexity and situations that require nuance
  • The delegation of decision-making to the subject matter experts who are closer to the issues in question
  • The flexibility to adjust quickly to a changing world and deal with unexpected challenges
  • Intrinsic motivation to pursue positive social outcomes as a result of having agency in decision-making
  • Significant reduction of greenwashing risk

In a world that is increasingly troubled by hardening divisions and the self-constructed walls that keep people from finding the strength and grace to work together, our pursuit of mission compatibility rests upon the Christian hope that through proactive, positive engagement, we can achieve a more just and sustainable world.

Our collaboration with members of the PC(USA) and The Church Pension Fund has been instrumental in these efforts. In 2023,  the Seminary joined the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), becoming the first theological institution of higher education to do so. This move is part of our ongoing commitment to increased corporate transparency and accountability, underscoring our commitment to ethical investment practices. 

In recent years, the Seminary’s endowment has performed well while seeking to remain ethically and morally aligned with our institutional mission.

Public Disclosure & Material Exposure Analysis

The Seminary does not publicly disclose the individual funds of our investment partners, but we do investigate their potential exposure to businesses that present serious ethical challenges, such as weapons manufacturing, with the hopes of engaging our partners on important ethical questions. Following our latest review, we found no material exposure to such companies.

Because of the ethical and moral alignment between the Seminary and its investment partners, the Investment Office has elected to share the PC(USA)‘s investment and proxy voting guidelines with these investment partners. This act further communicates our commitment to our values and also helps our investment partners remain connected to our mission and values as they navigate complex ethical and moral issues.