CSU, Chico News

University Foundation Board Approves Divestment of Fossil Fuel Holdings

Date: 12-12-2014

Joe Wills
Public Affairs

California State University, Chico’s University Foundation Board of Governors voted Wednesday, Dec. 10, to change its investment policy and divest of holdings in fossil fuel companies.

The 14-member board approved a resolution to exclude any direct investment in the top 200 fossil fuel companies and liquidate within four years holdings in managed funds that include investments in fossil fuel companies.

The approved resolution was drafted by Associated Students Sustainability Education Outreach member Kevin Killion, Associated Students President Taylor Herren and other students with input from University staff. CSU, Chico students passed an advisory measure earlier this year advocating University divestment of holdings in fossil fuel companies.

The University Foundation, which manages gifts and endowments for CSU, Chico, currently has no direct holdings in fossil fuel companies, and just under 2 percent of its portfolio in managed funds that include fossil fuel investments.

The resolution referenced the University’s leadership role in sustainability and efforts to reduce global warming, including:

  • Adoption of the Talloires Declaration in 2002 to use every opportunity to move toward an environmentally sustainable future;
  • Addition of a sixth University Strategic Priority in 2006 to become a national leader in environmental education;
  • Founding member of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007;
  • Adoption of a Climate Action Plan in 2011 and commitment to reach climate neutrality by 2030.

“This is an outstanding example of our campus community, working together, to ensure that our actions match our professed values,” said CSU, Chico President Paul Zingg. “It is essential to all of us at Chico State that we ‘walk the talk’ on sustainability, and in this case our students led the way. We have some of the most informed, engaged, thoughtful and passionate students in the country, and I can’t say enough about their role in this decision, and in other milestones achieved on campus.”

In October, Herren accepted on behalf of campus a Climate Leadership Award from Second Nature, a nonprofit working to further sustainability through higher education. CSU, Chico was the only master’s level university to receive the honor.

“The University took an unequivocal stance on divestment and climate change – we were the first public university to fully divest on fossil fuels,” said geography and planning professor Mark Stemen, who teaches courses in sustainability and civic engagement. “I’m impressed by what the students did and the way they did it. They worked very hard to get everyone on the same team. It was a collaborative effort, not confrontational. Their work portends well for the future of our campus and the world.”

CSU, Chico students have won accolades in the past for sustainability efforts, including This Way to Sustainability, the largest student-run conference of its kind, and the Associated Students’ Green Events Consulting Team, which won a best practice award at the 2014 California Sustainability in Higher Education conference.