A complaint was filed with Vanderbilt’s Office of Conflict of Interest (COI) and Commitment Management on Jan. 30 requesting an investigation surrounding allegations that Chancellor Daniel Diermeier concealed his connections to the fossil fuel industry. The report states that he could have issued directions concerning university investments to improve his own companies’ profit, violating his “primary obligations” to the university as chancellor.
A press release on Divest Vanderbilt’s website states that “a Vanderbilt community member partnered with DoresDivest” submitted the complaint. Isaiah Maynard, sophomore representative of Dores Divest, also told The Hustler that a “small cohort” of Dores Divest members gathered the information detailed in the complaint.
The Office of COI and Commitment Management and Diermeier did not immediately respond to The Hustler’s requests for comment. However, a university spokesperson emailed a university statement to The Hustler.
“We have received a complaint,” the statement reads. “We have a robust process for assessing potential conflicts and will follow our established protocols as we review the matter.”
Per university policy, a conflict of interest (COI) arises when an individual in the Vanderbilt community stands to gain a financial or personal advantage as a result of their role within the university. Diermeier has never mentioned his personal relations to gas companies to The Hustler.
“A Conflict of Interest refers to a situation in which an individual’s financial, professional, or other personal considerations may directly or indirectly affect, or have the appearance of affecting, an individual’s professional judgment in exercising any University duty or responsibility, including the conduct or reporting of research,” the policy details.
The filing claims that Diermeier may be guilty of a COI by not excusing himself from deliberations regarding fossil fuel divestment. As precedent for this policy, the complaint cites a Harvard Corporation member’s decision to exclude himself from fossil fuel divestment discussions due to representing ExxonMobile externally.
Another aspect of the complaint involves Diermeier’s apparent business, Novo Aurelius LLC. Formed in Delaware, the LLC was filed with the Tennessee Secretary of State on Aug. 12, 2020, under Diermeier’s name. Diermeier Consulting LLC, Anatta Holdings, LLC, Sunyata Holdings LLC, Kleonomics LLC, Domicile LLC, Workplace Analytics, LLC and Launch Education LLC were all filed on March 16, 2021, to the same Nashville mailing address as Novo Aurelius LLC. These companies were all originally filed in Illinois and share Novo Aurelius LLC as their principal office. However, only Novo Aurelius LLC lists Diermeier as a founder.
The complaint alleges that Diermeier Consulting LLC’s…
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