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Gonzaga Trustees Approve New Investment Strategy

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Gonzaga University
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Gonzaga’s Board of Trustees says it has adopted a new approach to socially responsible investing. The board approved the strategy at its meeting last Friday.

School leaders say it allows the university to balance making money with supporting the university’s mission. Some students and faculty members, though, are disappointed.

About four years ago, a group of Gonzaga students asked the university to consider pulling its investments from the 200 companies that are the biggest carbon polluters. And they wanted the university to put its money into firms that are developing and selling sustainable forms of energy, such as solar and wind.

After years of discussion, the trustees chose to go part way. They will not remove the university’s support from the top carbon intensive companies. But CFO Joe Smith says Gonzaga will invest about $10 million into research and activities that reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change.

“What the university Board of Trustees has learned is that we, as the trustee body, have to balance, collectively, the financial dynamics of the university, that being our goal to make sure that Gonzaga remains accessible and affordable to our students, balancing that with our commitment to the environment, sustainability and social justice," Smith said.

Some faculty members and students such as Olivia Jackiewicz say they’re happy about the new investments, but also disappointed that the trustees didn’t take action that was more bold.

“I feel that they’re empty agreements," Jackiewicz said. "None of them really address Gonzaga’s part in the climate crisis and they use greenwashing as a way to disguise these recommendations as adequate. But I don’t feel that they’re meaningful or lead to any significant change in Gonzaga’s investments.”

Jackiewicz says the student group Fossil Free Gonzaga will continue to push to get the university to divest from all fossil fuel companies.