American University's board of trustees could vote at its meeting next week on divesting fossil-fuel holdings from the university's $550 million endowment fund.
The Washington-based university has divestment on the agendas of its finance and investment committee, which meets Nov. 20, and its board, which meets Nov. 21, said Kelly L. Alexander, director of public relations, university communications.
The board plans to discuss divestment and could vote on whether to do so, Ms. Alexander said. The endowment has 4% of its assets in fossil-fuel companies, she said.
Divestment is on the agenda in large part because of the recommendation of the advisory committee on socially responsible investing, a panel created last year to enable university faculty and students “to provide guidance and input” to the board's finance and investment committee, Ms. Alexander said.
Fossil Free AU, a student group, seeks a “freeze on new investments in fossil-fuel companies by implementing a negative screen in the university endowment by the end of the calendar year” and a board commitment to divest fossil-fuel holdings from the endowment in the next five year, while expanding socially responsible investments, a group statement said.
“We know our school (divestment) wouldn't have much of an impact on fossil-fuel companies,” said Moira Nolan, a member of the group's media outreach team. But such an action would contribute to driving political momentum for change, she added.