On Friday, January 20, the OSU Board of Trustees voted to divest its assets in fossil fuel-related investment securities. They also voted to restrict future investment of Public University Fund assets in fossil fuel-related securities. According to the official investment policy resolution (Public, 2017), one of the considerations for the decision was “consistency of investment decisions with the University’s core value of social responsibility and its strategic goal to maintaining a rigorous focus on academic excellence, particularly in the science of sustainable earth ecosystems.”
This change in investment policy to coincide with Oregon State’s environmental commitment came as a result of the greater OSU community coming together for many years to press the issue. In December 2013, the Faculty Senate of OSU passed a resolution calling on the OSU Foundation to divest fossil fuel companies from its investment portfolio and in March 2014, the Associated Students of OSU passed a resolution calling upon the OSU Foundation to cease new investments in fossil fuel companies and ensure that within five years, none of its assets include holdings in these companies. In May 2015, students and faculty from the group OSU Divest provided public testimony to the Board, urging the university to remove its investments in fossil fuels, and in April 2016, 78% of students participating in the election voted in favor of a referendum for the OSU Foundation to divest from fossil fuels as part of student elections.
OSU’s commitment to divestment serves as an example of students and faculty successfully organizing to make a positive difference at their university and beyond. That same dedication from the OSU community will be required to achieve other crucial sustainability goals such as climate neutrality by 2025.
Oregon State University Board of Trustees. (2017, January 18). Public university fund investment policy amendments. Retrieved from http://leadership.oregonstate.edu/sites/leadership.oregonstate.edu/files/trustees/agendas-minutes/tab_x_puf_investment_policy_amendments.pdf