The University of San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone
An entrance to the University of San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

The University of San Diego announced Monday that it will phase out investments in fossil fuels in an effort to align its endowment with the Vatican’s environmental and social goals.

The decision, made by trustees of the Catholic institution at their September meeting, aligns investment policy with Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on the environment and society.

“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.

Following the encyclical, and prior to the new investment policy, the university had cut investment in fossil fuel companies by 60%.

“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, chairman of the board of trustees.

Harris said that as of June 30, just 3% of the university’s investment pool of $818 million is invested in fossil fuel companies. Under the new policy, these will be phased out by 2035.

Instead, the university has committed approximately $60 million toward investments that respect environmental, social and governance objectives.

USD, which will mark its 75th anniversary in 2024, has more than 8,000 students from 75 countries.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.