The University of Pittsburgh’s Consolidated Endowment Fund (the “Endowment”) is a supporting financial pillar that enables the University to carry out its education and research mission now, and into the future. The University’s primary investment objective is the maximization of the financial return on the Endowment, while taking into account risks in order to preserve the assets. Ultimate oversight and safeguarding of the Endowment rests with the Board, which has sole authority to place any non-financial constraints on the investment holdings of the Endowment.
The University strives to be cognizant of the views of its community members and recognizes that, from time to time, members of the University community may express their concern on an issue that impacts societal values to such a level that change is sought in the University’s investment of its Endowment. One such issue, fossil fuel investment, has been persistently raised over multiple years by multiple stakeholders within the University community. In consultation with the Chancellor, I have determined that a significant threshold has been met related to fossil fuel investments.
The determination as to whether non-financial constraints should be placed on investment holdings of the University’s Endowment rests solely with the Board of Trustees. Accordingly, I am now charging this ad hoc committee (the “Committee”) to provide options on whether, to what extent, and via what methods the University, in its Endowment, should consider divestment from fossil fuels in existing and/or future investments. The impact of such recommendation should be considered in the context of: (i) the University’s mission, values, and reputation; (ii) existing University policies, including the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policy that governs the Endowment; (iii) the need to maintain sound financial investment policies; and (iv) such other considerations as the committee may deem appropriate. In reviewing the issue, the Committee should consider, among other things, research and market reports, including, the findings and recommendations found in the University’s Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Committee Report that was issued in April 2019, as well as testimonies from the Pitt community, including the Fossil Free Pitt coalition, and subject matter experts.
The Committee should then provide a findings and options report by January 15, 2021.