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Syracuse University announces it will divest from fossil fuels

Syracuse University announced Tuesday that it is formally divesting endowment funds from coal mining and other fossil fuel companies.

SU will continue to seek investments through its endowment in companies that are focused on developing new technology involving solar energy, biofuels and advanced recycling, according to an SU News release.

This commitment means that SU will not “directly invest in publicly traded companies whose primary business is extraction of fossil fuels.” External investment managers at SU will also be directed to halt investments in these public companies, according to the release.

Through its investment return, SU’s endowment helps support student scholarships, academic programs and student life initiatives, among other things, according to the release.

“Syracuse has a long record of supporting responsible environmental stewardship and good corporate citizenship, and we want to continue that record,” said Chancellor Kent Syverud in the release. “Formalizing our commitment to not invest directly in fossil fuels is one more way we do that.”

The university’s work in reviewing its investments follows the Board of Trustees’ adoption of its Socially Responsible Investment Policy in 2013, according to the release.

One of THE General Body’s demands during its 18-day sit-in last November was that the university divest from fossil fuels. In February, SU officials met with members of Divest SU to share information and continue dialogue on the possibility of divestment from fossil fuels, according to the release.

Divest SU is a group of students seeking to divest SU’s endowment of fossil fuels and make it invest in renewable energy. The group was formed in 2012 after Bill McKibben, a well-known environmental author, gave a lecture in Hendricks Chapel. Since then, students involved in the group have hosted events such as Divestment Week and Divest Fest, held protests and created petitions in order to convince the university to stop its investment in fossil fuels.

“It is heartening to see our students fully engaged on this important issue,” said Bea Gonzalez, dean of University College and special assistant to the chancellor, in the release. “We have already had productive dialogue on divestment, and this step underscores our mutual commitment to acting in a way that supports the best interests of the University, our students, and the world.”

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