Feb. 18, 2020 Sustainability

Feb. 18, 2020

Presidential message

As we continue to thoughtfully engage opportunities around issues of sustainability, I would like to share that the Investment Subcommittee of our Board of Trustees has approved taking action on a strategy that will reduce our investment exposure to fossil fuel companies from 8.9% to 5.7% of our portfolio effective Friday, Feb. 21.

The 5.7% I cited above includes investment in all companies that derive a significant portion of their revenue from the production, extraction, or distribution of fossil fuels, including utility companies that use fossil fuels to generate energy and pipeline companies that transport fossil fuels but do not own any fossil fuel reserves. Investments in the top 100 coal and the top 100 oil and gas publicly traded reserve holders globally (the “Carbon Underground 200”) constituted approximately 1.5% of the University’s investment portfolio as of June 30, 2019.

In discussions this past fall, I encouraged our Board to review our guidelines regarding investment assessment processes to ensure they align with our desire for carbon emission reduction, globally and locally, while assessing the fiduciary obligations of the University. We are now receiving those recommendations, which are encapsulated below.

  1. Assess the feasibility of adding an investment allocation target to our overall portfolio that would, over time, have a positive impact on one or more of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
  2. Initiate a review of each of the University’s investment managers and consider setting targets to improve our portfolio’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) score over time.
  3. Continue to engage with peer universities and colleges to better understand investment assessment practices across similar institutions.
  4. Review the potential impact of various divestment scenarios in regard to expected return and portfolio volatility.

Too, it is important to note that, in other significant ways, we have intensified and sharpened our efforts and focus, and the allocation of resources, around sustainability.

As I shared in a previous update to campus, a new director of sustainability will join us later this season, and our new Climate Change Task Force of faculty, staff, and students will be meeting to make recommendations regarding concrete steps on decreasing institutional and individual demand for fossil fuels.

Our recent “Seeking Hope” panel event provided thoughtful, insightful discussion from a variety of academic disciplines and included a range of student voices. In March, Creighton University will be hosting two speakers on campus as part of our ongoing Planetary Emergency Lecture Series, sponsored by the Creighton Global Initiative.

I remain hopeful that these discussions and initiatives will have a positive impact on the Creighton community and beyond.

Sincerely,

Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD