Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Investment Considerations at Pitt

The University of Pittsburgh is committed to incorporating ESG factors in the management of the Consolidated Endowment Fund (CEF), the University's largest financial asset.

Since March 2020, the Office of Finance, which manages the CEF, has followed an ESG Policy for the CEF. The ESG Policy provides the University with a more consistent and comprehensive approach to evaluating investment opportunities. 

ESG Factors chartThe ESG Policy states the University’s commitment to “fully integrating ESG factors into the University’s decision-making processes, on the core belief that supporting responsible business practices also supports strong investment outcomes.”

Though ESG factors vary based on the type, industry, and scope of an investment, the ESG Policy outlines how the Office of Finance considers a range of factors when evaluating investment risk. Those factors could include energy efficiency, hazardous materials management, climate change, water and land management, data protection and privacy, human rights, labor standards, product safety, accounting and audit standards, bribery and corruption, business ethics, and regulatory compliance.

Second ESG Report Published

In an effort to continue to enhance transparency regarding the CEF and the implementation of the ESG policy, the second annual ESG report was published in April 2023, reflecting information from Fiscal Year 2022. The report provides updates on the following:

  • The CEF’s fossil fuel exposure.
  • The CEF’s approach to direct engagement with underlying companies in which the endowment holds investments and the use of proxy voting.
  • External investment managers currently overseeing approximately 87% of the CEF by value have formal ESG policies in place or take ESG considerations into account when making investments.

A high-level overview of the report can be found in this Pittwire article.

The Office of Finance continues to meet with key student organizations on a regular basis as well as speaking at various University forums to enhance overall awareness and improve dialogue on this important topic.

Inaugural ESG Report Launched

In March 2022, the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Finance released the “Inaugural Consolidated Endowment Fund Environmental, Social and Governance Report.” The Fiscal Year 2021 report details how the University of Pittsburgh incorporates environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in the management of the University’s Consolidated Endowment Fund (CEF). The report “seeks to provide greater clarity regarding how ESG factors are applied in the [University’s] investment decision-making process as well as report on fossil fuel trends.”

A high-level overview of the report can be found in this Pittwire article.

Frequently Asked Questions

How frequently will the ESG report be published?

We will be publishing this report every year, and we currently expect future editions to be made available during the Spring semester annually. To the extent that we are able to streamline the preparation of the report, we will try to release it sooner.

Why won't Pitt divest from its fossil fuel holdings?

The Board of Trustees was clear that the University cannot apply a negative screen to endowment investments with respect to fossil fuels.

At the time that potential divestment was evaluated by the Board of Trustees, it was determined that the University would face a significant financial loss were it to divest. That loss would conflict with the purpose of the endowment, which is to support institutional financial aid, scholarships, faculty positions and research activities in perpetuity.

Coal and natural gas have been drivers of the economy of southwestern Pennsylvania for more than 100 years. Why is Pitt turning its back on investing in these important natural resources, especially considering current global political factors?

 

At the time that the topic of divestment was originally evaluated by the Board of Trustees, it was determined that the exploration and production of fossil fuels would continue to become less attractive investment opportunities over time. Supporting responsible business practices is integral to producing strong investment outcomes.