The University of San Diego Becomes One of the First Universities in the World

The University of San Diego is delighted to announce that at its September meeting, the University of San Diego Board of Trustees unanimously adopted an amended Investment Policy aligned with Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’– one of the first universities in the world to do so.

In the 2015 papal encyclical, Pope Francis called for urgent action to care for our common home, the poor, and the vulnerable who are disproportionately impacted by global environmental problems such as climate change, pollution, access to clean water and loss of biodiversity.

This week, the Catholic Church celebrated the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, one of the most well-known and beloved figures in Christianity. Revered for his compassion for the poor, nature and animals, Francis is considered the patron saint of ecology.

“This change to the investment policy reflects the university’s commitment to social justice, stewardship of the planet, protection of human life and dignity, and promotion of the common good into its investments, said James T. Harris, president of the University of San Diego. “This change is part of multiple commitments that USD is making to set the standard to ensure a healthy environment and a sustainable common home for future generations.”

Impactful strides have been made since 2016:

The university has reduced its exposure to fossil fuels in its investments by approximately 60 percent.
Only 3 percent of USD’s $818 million long-term investment pool was invested in fossil fuels, and USD has not made any new commitments to these limited partnerships since 2016.
By 2035, the university will seek alternatives to eliminate its exposure from fossil fuel companies.
The university has committed approximately $60 million toward impact investments in all three components of the Environmental, Social and Governance practices (ESG), a growth of more than 400 percent since 2016.

This landmark decision stems from recommendations made by a Socially Responsible Investing Task Force (SRITF) composed of USD students, alumni, faculty, staff and trustees.

“The task force carefully considered the concerns of USD’s community members along with the ethical and fiduciary responsibilities of the investment committee and the board. Ultimately, working together allowed us to reach a set of unanimous recommendations that each stakeholder group was proud to support,” said Leandro Festino, USD Board of Trustees Investment Committee Chair.

“While the university has proactively taken steps to avoid new investments in fossil fuels for many years now, officially approving these policy changes is a significant expression of the alignment of the values of our institution and demonstrates clearly our commitment to our planet,” said Donald Knauss, USD Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.

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