UMass Foundation to Divest $770 Million Endowment from Coal Companies

A major victory in the academic realm for climate change activists.

Climate change activists scored a major victory Thursday, as the UMass Foundation announced it would divest its UMass Foundation to Divest $770 Million Endowment From Coal Companies from investments in coal companies, pivoting instead toward a strategy emphasizing “environmental sustainability and socially responsible investing.”

The UMass Foundation Board, which oversees the system’s endowment and charitable donations, reached the decision following a yearlong process that began with the creation of the “Socially Responsible Investing Advisory Committee” last November.

“We believe this action sends an important message about the urgency of climate change and the University community’s commitment to addressing it,” executive vice president Charles Pagnam said in a statement. “At the same time, our policy protests the Foundation’s primary mission of maximizing the investment returns on funds donated for research, academic programs, financial aid, and other purposes.”

The board’s decision stands in stark contrast to MIT’s unwillingness to divest from fossil fuels despite pressure from students and faculty, as such action could hinder the ability to work with the industry on future research initiatives. “We feel like we would have much easier path toward getting coal companies to the table if we didn’t divest from them,” Vice President for Research Maria T. Zuber told Boston magazine in October.