University of Dayton Divests From Fossil Fuels
The University of Dayton, a Catholic, Marianist university, announced yesterday that it will begin divesting its $670 million investment pool from fossil fuel companies. It joins the growing list of religious groups, seminaries, and universities that have made this brave step.
“This action, which is a significant step in a long-term process, is consistent with Catholic social teachings, our Marianist values, and comprehensive campuswide sustainability initiatives and commitments under the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment,” University of Dayton President Daniel J. Curran said. “We cannot ignore the negative consequence of climate change, which disproportionately impacts the world’s most vulnerable people. Our Marianist values of leadership and service to humanity call upon us to act on these principles and serve as a catalyst for civil discussion and positive change that benefits our planet.”
Michael Galligan-Stierle, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, voiced his strong support for the University’s decision to divest.
“We applaud the University of Dayton for taking this step as perhaps the first U.S. Catholic university to divest from fossil fuels,” he said. “This is a complex issue, but Catholic higher education was founded to examine culture and find ways to advance the common good. Here is one way to lead as a good steward of God’s creation.”
The Rev. Martin Solma, provincial for the Marianist Province of the U.S. and a member of the board’s investment committee, believes that doing something good for the environment doesn’t have to be bad for the wallet.
“We believe it is possible and necessary to be both responsible stewards of our planet and fiduciaries,” Solma said. “The tremendous moral imperative to act in accordance with our mission far outweighed any other considerations for divestment.”
The University plans to divest in phases. It will initially eliminate fossil fuel holdings from its domestic equity account, then it will develop plans to eliminate fossil fuels from its international holdings. The University will invest in green and sustainable technologies or holdings and restrict future investments in private equity or hedge funds whose investments support fossil fuel or significant carbon producing holdings.
Hopefully, the University will serve as an example to other religious institutions with large investment pools, such as the Catholic Church itself. Earlier this year, multi-faith groups sent a letter to Pope Francis calling for the Catholic Church’s divestment form fossil fuel companies. While the Vatican still has yet to respond, other Catholic organizations, like the University of Dayton, will hopefully inspire positive action.
News Source: University of Dayton
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