Creighton University plans to divest from fossil fuels within a decade

An oil well is seen in this illustration photo. (CNS photo/Jessica Lutz, Reuters)

OMAHA, Neb. — Creighton University plans to divest from fossil fuels over the next decade and turn toward investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

School officials announced the plan Dec. 31, saying it marks a commitment to its Jesuit Catholic mission while continuing to manage investments to provide for the university’s operations, academic programs, scholarships and other needs.

The plan calls for withdrawing from ownership of public securities of fossil fuel corporations within five years and exiting from holdings in private fossil fuel investments within 10 years.

“This modified policy signifies our strong commitment to sustainable investing — and sustainability in general across the university — and according to our investment advisers, it can be accomplished without a negative impact on the strength and overall performance of our endowment, which greatly serves the mission of the institution,” Jesuit Father Daniel S. Hendrickson, Creighton’s president, said in a statement.

Michael R. McCarthy, chairman of the university’s board of trustees, acknowledged Father Hendrickson’s leadership in encouraging board members to review the school’s investment policies.

The university said it will continue to vote shareholder proxies during corporate annual meetings in favor of carbon-reduction resolutions while pursuing opportunities to partner with organizations that engage companies on environmental issues, such as the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and the Jesuit Committee on Investment Responsibility.

The move comes as school officials have incorporated sustainability and care for creation campus wide. Among the steps the university has taken is a comprehensive composting program and stronger adherence to Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on environmental responsibility, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”

“We have intensified and sharpened our efforts and focus and allocation of resources around sustainability, including hiring a new director of sustainability,” Father Hendrickson said. “This a significant issue for our world and I hope that in many ways Creighton can lead the discussion and identify creative solutions.”

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