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February 10, 2021

Dear members of the Tufts community:

Tufts has a long history of leadership within higher education on issues of sustainability, ranging from initiating the Talloires Declaration in 1990 to its work today to minimize its carbon footprint, foster groundbreaking research and scholarship, and prepare students to become the next generation of leaders on climate change.

That commitment continues today as we announce that the Board of Trustees has voted to prohibit direct investment in 120 coal and tar sands companies with the largest reserves. This restriction, which would cover virtually all public reserves in this space and most major energy companies, would apply to the Investment Office’s internally managed accounts. The university currently has no direct holdings in the restricted companies in internally managed accounts, and the change in investment policy will prevent it from acquiring any. At the same time, the university also will seek to influence the holdings in its other investments that it does not directly control, such as commingled funds, by attempting to move external investment managers toward change.

Tufts joins a very small number of U.S. colleges and universities with similar-sized endowments to restrict investment in coal and tar sands companies.

This action will be augmented by a multi-part commitment to promoting further change beyond the university and enhanced transparency and accountability within it. The university will:

  • Invest $10 million to $25 million in positive impact funds related to climate change over the next five years. A minimum of $10 million would be allocated, with the remainder structured as a match to encourage contributions to the endowment from those who are passionate about climate action.
  • Proactively communicate with all current and future investment managers to inform them of Tufts’ decision to divest all direct holdings in coal and tar sands companies, impress upon them the university’s belief in the urgency of climate change, and encourage them to further integrate climate-change risk and other environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into their investment processes.
  • Enhance transparency by creating a dashboard that will report on the university’s progress toward these actions as well as other relevant information regarding action on climate change and fossil fuels.
  • Evaluate progress in light of the rapid pace of change in the fields of environmental sustainability, energy production/consumption, and investing, and revisit these actions in two to five years.
  • Further integrate and advance the university’s efforts on environmental sustainability. The university would coordinate these efforts with the Campus Sustainability Council to connect their work in support of a broader, university-wide climate change mitigation plan.

These steps follow the recommendations of a Responsible Investment Advisory Group (RIAG) composed of students, faculty, and staff that studied the issue of divestment. We appreciate their commitment to this issue and their service to the university. In particular, we thank Executive Vice President Mike Howard for convening the RIAG and leading the university through this work. We urge you to review the report of the group’s findings and recommendations, which contains useful context and detail, here.

The actions we have announced today fit within the university’s long history of commitment to the environment, sustainability, and addressing the threats presented by climate change, and continue Tufts’ leadership on issues of civic engagement and social responsibility. We thank all of the students, faculty, and staff, past and present, who contributed to the dialogue on these important issues and helped bring about positive change both at Tufts and in the broader world.

Sincerely,

Tony Monaco
President

Peter Dolan
Chair, Board of Trustees