Business Officers Discuss Sustainability

Business leaders gathered recently after the NACUBO annual meeting to explore how to preserve the core mission and values while ensuring a more sustainable future. The content and discussion was focused on building integrated strategies for affordability, diversity and sustainability for higher education to fulfill its critical role in meeting society's needs.

Southwestern Illinois College to Obtain $500K for Solar Energy

A $500,000 grant from the U.S. Steel and American Bottom Conservancy trust fund will go toward a proposed 154-kilowatt photovoltaic array to reduce the college’s carbon footprint and provide an educational resource for students and the community.

U Massachusetts Accepts $1M to Support Resiliency Plan

Recognized for its multi-campus, hazard mitigation plan, the university recently won a $1 million grant from the state that will be used to purchase emergency generators in preparation and response to natural threats.

Energy Department Funds $2.1M Solar Training Program

The Solar Training Network that includes the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) aims to improve access to solar training, resources and careers, and seeks to increase the quality and diversity of the solar workforce and establish national training standards. The $2.1 million program is led by The Solar Foundation and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Northeastern U to Invest $25M in Environmental Sustainability

The uni­ver­sity recently announced it will direct $25 mil­lion of its endow­ment, cur­rently valued at approx­i­mately $700 mil­lion, to invest­ments with a focus on sus­tain­ability, including clean energy, renew­ables, green building, and sus­tain­able water and agri­cul­ture. Imple­men­ta­tion will take place over five years.

Brown U Launches Donor Sustainability Fund

With the help of students, the university recently launched the Brown University Sustainable Investment Fund that gives donors who wish to support the university a sustainability-focused giving option structured to invest in companies that meet high standards of environmental, social and governance practices.

Emory U to Launch $1.5M Sustainability Revolving Fund

The soon-to-launch $1.5 million, self-replenishing program will be used to fund capital-intensive energy and water efficiency projects. Made possible by a $500,000 grant from The Kendeda Fund and matched with $1 million from the university, Emory also joins the Billion Dollar Green Challenge led by the Sustainable Endowments Institute.

U Maryland System to Direct Endowment Away from Fossil Fuels

Following a student-led movement to direct more of its portfolio toward clean energy, the University System of Maryland Foundation, which oversees the state university system's $1 billion endowment, said that it will stop investing directly in the 200 coal, oil and gas-related companies on a list complied by Fossil Free Indexes. Students at University of Maryland, College Park began the push to divest from fossil fuels in 2013, circulating a petition with nearly 600 signatures from within and outside the university.

Austin CC Receives $150K for Solar System

EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO) recently announced the community college Highland Campus Library as the winner of the grant that will cover up to $150,000 of the cost of installing a solar array, allowing the university to reduce its electricity expenditures.

U Cambridge Announces Fossil Fuel Divestment Decision

(U.K.) A university working group, charged in 2015, recently announced its plans to blacklist all investments in coal and tar sands, although currently it has no direct holdings in either. At this time, however, the university refuses to completely divest from fossil fuel investments. This decision follows a petition signed by more than 2,000 students calling for divestment and a student union council vote 33-to-1 in favor of divestment. Nearly 100 Cambridge academics signed an open letter in April 2016 calling for divestment.

Becker College Invests Full Endowment to Benefit Society

The trustees of the college recently announced they have officially mandated that all investments in their endowment should generate a positive impact on society, as well as a targeted financial return. The completion date for the portfolio transformation of the school’s $5 million endowment is June 2017.

U California Receives $300K for Carbon Neutrality Project

With a $300,000 gift from the TomKat Foundation, established by Tom Steyer and Kathryn Taylor, the university recently launched the TomKat UC Carbon Neutrality Project. UC Santa Barbara’s Institute for Energy Efficiency will lead the project and bring together working groups of researchers, practitioners and students with wide-ranging areas of expertise from diverse disciplines in order to advance UC’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative, which aims to eliminate the use of fossil fuels through major investments in energy efficiency, behavioral incentives, the development of alternatives to natural gas and the widespread deployment of renewable energy.

U Massachusetts Amherst Divests Fossil Fuel Holdings

A recent announcement revealed a unanimous UMass Foundation Board of Directors' decision to divest its endowment, whose value was $770 million at the end of the last fiscal year, from direct holdings in fossil fuels. The move follows divestiture from coal companies in 2015.

La Trobe U Pledges to Divest from Fossil Fuels

(Australia) Over the next five years, a new university commitment says it will divest a A$40 million ($28.7 million) managed fund from the 200 most carbon-intense companies.

Amherst College Receives $1M 'Cooke Prize for Equity in Educational Excellence'

The Cooke Prize was recently awarded to the college due to its record of eliminating arbitrary barriers to admission and promoting the success of high-achieving students from low-income families.

Three New York Schools Win $1M Each in Clean Energy Competition

Bard College, University at Buffalo and SUNY Broome Community College each won $1 million as part of Governor Cuomo's Energy to Lead Competition. The competition, first announced in October 2015, challenged student-led coalitions from New York colleges and universities to design and develop innovative plans for campus and community-wide clean energy projects. Applicants were required to demonstrate innovation in one or more of the following areas: project design, business model, partnerships and/or curriculum integration.

Emory U to Launch Sustainability Revolving Fund

The new $1.5 million Sustainability Revolving Fund will be a self-replenishing program that will be used to fund capital-intensive energy and water efficiency projects across campus. The program is made possible by a $500,000 grant from The Kendeda Fund. The grant was matched by a $1 million investment by the university.

U Dayton Establishes Green Revolving Fund

The university is investing $1 million to seed the new green revolving fund, designed to encourage the community to look at the entire campus as a laboratory, classroom and testing ground for energy-saving ideas. The idea originated from a 2012 student-led research project suggesting the fund could offer a payoff to the university in cost savings, innovation, learning opportunities and create a greener campus.

SUNY New Paltz Establishes Student-Driven Green Revolving Fund

The university's new green revolving fund is a student-driven investment fund that will be used to implement energy efficiency and sustainability projects on campus. The idea and plan for the fund came from a course in the university's School of Business that introduces ideas for how sustainable practices can generate a competitive business advantage.

Furman U Receives $95K Grant for Waterways

The new $95,000 grant from Duke Energy's Water Resources Fund will help the university to protect and enhance the region’s waterways and environment. With the funds, Furman will restore a wetland habitat and build floating marsh islands. The project will be the basis for student-faculty ecological research and community education. Matching funds from the university will construct a pedestrian bridge and provide educational signage. The grant is part of Duke Energy’s Water Resources Fund, a $10 million, multiyear commitment to improve water quality and conservation in the North and South Carolina and neighboring regions.

Trent U Environmental Studies Institute Receives $1.5M

Following his initial $165,000 gift in 2015 to help launch the university's International Institute for Environmental Studies, Dr. Justin Chiu '76 recently donated $1.5 million in support of the institute, which is in partnership with Nanjing University, to bring experts from universities around the world together to tackle international environmental issues.

College of William & Mary Establishes Green Revolving Fund

Founded with an initial pool of $200,000, the college's new Green to Gold revolving fund will finance sustainability projects that reduce resource use or greenhouse gas emissions. First in the queue is a lighting retrofit for a campus parking garage that will replace inefficient metal halide and high-pressure sodium fixtures with LED lights, providing a 70 percent energy reduction for that deck.

Australian Universities Push for Fossil Fuel Divestment with Creative Action

In April 2016, Fossil Free Universities released a video compilation on Facebook about higher education students in Australia that used creative and powerful actions to signal their preference for universities to divest from fossil energy.

U Ottawa Sets Investment Portfolio Carbon Reduction Goal

After 18 months of considering divestiture, the university's Board of Governors adopted a report, Addressing Global Warming: The uOttawa Response, that outlines its move to develop a strategy to shift fossil-related investments toward enterprises involved in creating and selling technologies that include renewable energy and other clean technology solutions.

U Mary Washington to Minimize Investments in Fossil Energy

After a comprehensive study conducted by a special subcommittee of the President's Council on Sustainability, the university's Board of Visitors requested the foundation board revise its investment policy to limit discretionary fossil fuel investments to a range of zero to four percent, with a target of two percent or less. The subcommittee determined that complete divestment from fossil fuel funds presented practical challenges as well as the potential for a negative impact upon the foundation’s investment portfolio.

Los Angeles to Offer Free Community College

In early April, the city's mayor announced a plan to offer one year of free community college to graduates of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

U Wisconsin-Stevens Point Uses 100% Renewable Sources for Electricity

The first university in the state to obtain 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, the university implemented energy conservation and reduced consumption before purchasing renewable energy credits. The university’s goal is to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Worcester State U Students Offer Incentive to Divest from Fossil Energy

A student-led movement at the university aimed at pressuring the university to pull its investment money out of coal, oil and natural gas companies has recently announced its participation in the Multi-School Fossil Free Divestment Fund. Until the university makes an official statement pledging to divest itself from fossil fuels, the money in the multi-school fund will remain in escrow. The Multi-School Fossil Free Divestment Fund includes participation from more than 30 schools nationwide.

U Connecticut and Yale U Win $54M in Resilience Competition

The National Disaster Resilience Competition, held by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, awarded the two universities and several partners $54.3 million to build on a project that began after Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012. A coalition of regulators, municipalities and university researchers designed a demonstration project in Bridgeport, Connecticut, that works with the ecology and shoreline geography to protect critical energy infrastructure and residents in one of the state’s poorest, most vulnerable neighborhoods. Most of the federal money will go toward elevating a street that runs through the University of Bridgeport and constructing a greenway earthen berm to protect the community against storm surges.

Higher Education Institutions Under Pressure to Disclose Investments

The Associated Press reports that Congress and campus activists have stepped up pressure on colleges and universities to reveal financial investments made through their endowments. While lawmakers are questioning whether to tax colleges on investment portfolios, activists, including alumni and students, are demanding to know if investments are held in certain industries. An inquiry by The Associated Press to 50 public and private universities asking them to disclose their investments revealed "most schools issue annual reports with broad information and few details about specific investments".

Universities Help Launch 'Intentional Endowments Network'

Nearly 20 universities recently announced the formal launch of the Intentional Endowments Network. To support the development of intentionally designed endowments, the network facilitates peer-to-peer connection and learning, thought leadership and collaborative action. This peer-learning network engages senior decision-makers and key stakeholders in dialogue around the full range of options related to sustainable investing.

Cornell U Constructs Two Photovoltaic Arrays

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and Cornell University, along with Distributed Sun and Building Energy, announced that new rooftop solar arrays have been installed atop two university buildings to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build a clean energy future. The university received support for these solar projects under New York Governor Cuomo's $1 billion NY-Sun Initiative, administered by NYSERDA, which is designed to advance the scale-up of solar and move New York State closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry.

Stanford U Gets $400M Pledge from Nike Chairman

Philip Knight, the co-founder and chairman of Nike Inc., said recently that he had pledged to give Stanford University $400 million to recruit graduate students around the globe to address society’s most intractable problems, including poverty and climate change. Starting in 2018, the program will annually offer full tuition and board to 100 students, a third of them from the U.S. and two-thirds from abroad, who will gain admittance to one of Stanford’s seven graduate schools and commit to working on important issues in small, multidisciplinary teams.

Bowdoin College Receives $10M Gift for Study of Environment

Bowdoin College announces a new center for the study of the environment, funded with a $10 million gift from David and Barbara Roux of Virginia. The center aims to encourage collaboration and creativity in the teaching and scholarship of the environment. The new building to house the center is being designed to achieve USGBC LEED Platinum designation and is expected to open in the mid-to-late fall of 2018.

National Union of Students Calls for Large Investment in Renewable Energy

(U.K.): The National Union of Students (NUS), a U.K.-based membership organization, recently called for a divest-invest campaign that calls for universities and colleges to transfer 100 million pounds ($142.6 million) out of fossil fuels into renewable energy. This campaign launched after a freedom of information request revealed 180 million pounds is invested in fossil fuels. The NUS also conducted a survey that concluded both students and staff strongly support divestment. The NUS plans to support students' unions as they push their institutions to divest.

U California Divests from Private Prisons Amid Pressure

After pressure from the Afrikan Black Coalition, the university sold approximately $25 million worth of indirect investments in private prison corporations after the black student union revealed in November that the university held shares in private prisons. University shares in the private prisons, which were part of a portfolio, were sold on Dec. 1, 2015.

U Massachusetts Amherst to Divest from Coal Companies

The UMass Foundation recently announced 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 $770 million in endowment assets for the UMass System.

SUNY ESF to Divest from Indirect Fossil Fuel Investments

The ESF College Foundation along with SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) and the board of trustees has committed to divest from indirect investments in the 200 companies identified by Carbon Underground as the top fossil fuel companies, based on potential climate impact. The university currently has no direct holdings and will not have any in the future.

London School Economics Pledges Fossil Fuel Investment Reduction

The school recently pledged to continue to ensure that no direct investments are made in fossil fuels and that it will seek to reduce investment placed indirectly through investment funds in companies whose business is significantly focused on thermal coal or tar sands. It will also avoid investment in companies engaged in tobacco manufacture and indiscriminate armaments.

William & Mary Announces $68K from Green Funds for Projects

The university's Committee on Sustainability released $68,333 toward campus sustainability projects including rain barrel installations and on-campus water quality control initiatives, water-bottle filling stations and recycling bins, and implementation of paper-saving equipment.

U Sheffield Announces New Endowment Investment Policy

(U.K.): The university's new endowment investment policy includes several socially responsible aspects, including a commitment to eliminate exposure to investments linked to explicit environmental damage. Given the overwhelming evidence of the impact of fossil fuels on climate change, this commitment will lead the university to disinvest within the next academic year.

Northwestern U to Adopt UN Principles for Responsible Investing

Northwestern University will join Harvard University and the University of California Berkeley by adopting the U.N.-supported Principles of Responsible Investing, which address the importance of environmental, social and corporate governance issues to consider when making investment choices.

U Dayton Conference Focuses on Fossil Fuel Divestment

Videos from the university's conference on the how-to of divestment-investment are now online. The university brought together more than 100 investment experts, religious leaders, students and activists to share their institutions' experiences in divestment and investment in renewable energy.

U Maryland Students Send Strong Statement on Fossil Fuel Investments

On Nov. 4, the Student Government Association passed a bill urging the university system chancellor to freeze expansion of all investments in fossil fuel companies, form a task force to assess methods of fossil fuel divestment, sell off those investments within five years, and reinvest in clean renewable energy companies.

Armstrong State U Receives $100K for Soilless Farming Research

The Foram Group Charitable Foundation recently presented a $100,000 check to fund the creation of Armstrong State University’s Aquaponics Research Center, whose mission is to conduct cutting-edge research and to develop technologies and best practices that improve the sustainability and profitability of soilless farming techniques.

Inside Higher Ed: 'Does Divestment Cost?'

The recent article from Inside Higher Ed offers two opposing analyses of divestment from fossil fuels. The article goes on to discuss different strategies and reasons that some universities and colleges have for divestment and investment.

U Maryland Sustainability Fund Reaches $1M Milestone

This semester marks a significant milestone for the university's Sustainability Fund. Since 2011, more than $1 million has been granted to 72 projects that promote environmental sustainability and positively impact the student experience.

Williams College to Invest $50M in Carbon Reduction Activities

In response to a petition from alumni, faculty, staff and students calling for endowment divestment from fossil fuels, the college's board of trustees recently announced a $50 million investment effort to address climate change through a comprehensive set of initiatives targeted at reducing carbon emissions, obtaining carbon neutrality by 2020, and educational efforts related to climate change.

Georgia Tech Receives $30M Grant for Education & Research Building

With $30 million from The Kendeda Fund, the university plans to construct a zero net energy and water consumption, education and research facility that will integrate into the university's Eco-Commons, a series of spaces designed to conserve natural resources and provide educational and recreational amenities. The project is slated to become a Living Building Challenge 3.0-certified facility.

U California System Sells $200M in Coal & Oil Sands Holdings

The university system has sold off its endowment and pension fund holdings in coal and oil sands companies, a $200-million move that officials recently announced was in response to both environmental concerns and rising financial risk in those industries. The university has no plans to sell off holdings in oil and natural gas.