Can We Trust Our Trustee?

By THEODORE WEISS

How many Colorado College trustees can you name? I bet you can’t name five. That’s a shame. 

As Colorado College implements its 2019 antiracism and carbon neutrality policy, one ought to consider who will be representing the institution in these initiatives. Who are the decision-makers? What are their conflict of interests? One should look no further than Jack Wold. 

Wold serves on the Colorado College Board of Trustees, which manages the college’s endowment. Totaling around $700 million, the endowment invests in various industries to provide the college with financial stability — including the oil and gas industry. 

Previous CC student groups sprang up on campus in the last five years, like Fossil Free CC, which protested and petitioned for divestment in fossil fuels to no avail from campus leadership. Other initiatives have not worked either. 

But it’s not ignorance that’s driving inaction. Nor is it apathy. It’s profit. 

When he’s not masking his philanthropy and progressiveness as a college trustee, he serves as the CEO of World Energy Properties , a mid-tier oil and gas company with operations in Wyoming, Oklahoma, and “as far away as Papua New Guinea.” 

World Energy Properties operates 119 wells and partners with an additional 82 wells. Its acreage totals 143,000 net mineral acres (264,000 gross acres) with greater than one billion barrels of recoverable reserves. 

“I think it’s fabulous,” said Wold in a different interview with the Casper Star Tribune. “There are all kinds of oil fields that have been discovered and developed there… The upside potential is phenomenal.” 

Wold, an executive of an oil and gas company, is tasked with implementing a progressive and aggressive policy toward combating climate change. 

And students wonder why CC abdicates its responsibility to its students, faculty, and the world in combating climate change by divesting. Student advocacy is useless under the spell of the wallet. 

How can Colorado College preach and promote sustainability when its board members directly profit off inaction? Or even climate change? Wold’s conflict of interest with divestment directly collides with CC’s carbon neutral policy. 

Colorado College’s carbon neutral policy states that “all energy consumption or emissions released, must either be eliminated (replaced with technology like solar panels) or reduced and balanced by carbon offsets (supported reduction in carbon elsewhere).” 

While CC says it focuses on sustainability and the ecological impact of man-made climate change, Wold’s company’s “focus is on the stacked oil reservoirs in the PRB (Powder River Basin) that are most economically developed with horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing” and ”on the multiple oil & gas targets in our Rocky Mountain backyard.” 

Wold’s responsibility is not to CC or to combating climate change, but to “consistently build & realize tangible value for our shareholders & employees.” 

It’s obvious: Wold’s responsibility is not to CC — it’s to his wallet. 

According to WEP’s website, “Wold Oil Properties, LLC (WOP) is a family owned and operated oil and gas company characterized by consistency and western values.” Whatever those “western values” are, they don’t align with CC’s. Colorado College ought to be transparent about its open conflict of interest or Wold should step down from the board of trustees. 

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