UMass Foundation to Divest from Investments in Coal Companies
Friday, December 4, 2015
Continuing the University of Massachusetts community’s leadership on climate change, the UMass Foundation announced today that it will divest from direct investments in coal companies. The Foundation also said that it will continue to evaluate ways to manage the endowment in a manner that promotes both environmental sustainability and socially responsible investing. The Foundation oversees $770M in endowment assets for the UMass System.
“We believe this action sends an important message about the urgency of climate change and the University community’s commitment to addressing it,” said Charles J. Pagnam, executive vice president of the UMass Foundation. “At the same time, our policy protects the Foundation’s primary mission of maximizing the investment returns on funds donated for research, academic programs, financial aid and other purposes.”
The divestment decision is the latest in a series of steps that the Foundation has taken to adopt socially responsible investing practices, including formally incorporating into its investment policies Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria, establishing a Social Choice Endowment option for donors, and becoming a signatory to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which provides a global system for organizations to measure, disclose, manage and share environmental information.
The steps the Foundation is taking on divestment are consistent with the leading role the University has played in addressing climate change through research, academic programs, student engagement and its own energy policies. In 2007, for example, the University President and all five campus Chancellors signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. Since then, UMass has succeeded in reducing its carbon emissions by an average 4 percent per year.