University of Dayton in US divesting from coal, fossil fuel investments

(Photo: University of Dayton website)University of Dayton in 2014.

A U.S. Catholic university says it is to begin divesting coal and fossil fuels from its investment portfolio and it hopes its model will serve as an example to other institutions.

The University of Dayton, a Catholic, Marianist university announced on June 24, it will begin divesting coal and fossil fuels from its $670 million investment pool.

It is believed to be the first Catholic university in the United States to take this step, the Ohio-based university stated on its website.

"I think that first of all, when you look at the whole issue of sustainability, it's coming to the forefront in the country... amongst our students it's a very important issue," said Dr. Daniel J. Curran, president of the University of Dayton in an interview with Vatican Radio.

"But when we looked at some of the positions of the Church in general, and the university's stated mission, it became very important."

As a Catholic institution, he said Dayton should support the social teachings of the Church.

Curran said in a statement on the university's website that Marianist values, which enliven the spirit of family and community, as well as leadership and service to humanity, call upon it to act on these principles and "serve as a catalyst for civil discussion and positive change" that benefits the planet.

"This action, which is a significant step in a long-term process, is consistent with Catholic social teachings, our Marianist values, and comprehensive campuswide sustainability initiatives and commitments under the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment," said Curran.

"We cannot ignore the negative consequences of climate change, which disproportionately impact the world's most vulnerable people."

Dr Curran said he hopes that the decision can serve as a model and a catalyst for discussion at other institutions.

"We do believe that this is a model that can be applied in other institutions," he told Vatican Radio.

The university has planned for its divestment to occur in phases.

It will initially eliminate fossil fuel holdings from its domestic equity accounts.

This will be followed by the panned elimination fossil fuel from international holdings, investment in green and sustainable technologies or holdings.

The university will restrict future investments in private equity or hedge funds whose investments support fossil fuel or significant carbon-producing holdings.

Dayton University was founded in 1850 by the Society of Mary and is now the largest private university in the state of Ohio.

The university says it has taken a comprehensive approach to environmental sustainability and human rights scholarship and action.

In addition to other socially responsible initiatives, the University of Dayton's online campus also offers a renewable energy degree program.

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