Divestment at SU: A Case Study

SeattleU was the first US Jesuit university in the world to commit to full fossil fuel divestment.

In September 2018, the board of trustees voted to divest the $230 million endowment of fossil fuels investments, with a goal of Dec. 31, 2020 to achieve a 50 percent reduction in the exposure to companies owning fossil fuel reserves in the marketable portion of the endowment portfolio. This goal was reached in March 2020, nine months ahead of schedule. By June 30, 2023, SU will be fully divested from fossil fuels.

The purpose of this divestment case study is to share our experience with divesture, inspire others, and educate others on the importance of fossil fuel divestment.


What is Divestment, ESG and SRI?

Divestment is simply is the opposite of an investment. It is the process of getting rid of stocks, bonds, or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous.

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria are the three key factors used to judge the sustainability and ethics of an investment.

Socially responsible investing (SRI) describes investments that promote positive social or environmental change. This can include investments in companies that are free from fossil fuel usage, give their employees living wages, etc.


SU's Divestment Timeline

For a detailed timeline depicting all divestment events at SU, see Detailed Divestment Timeline

 Financial Impacts of Divestment on SU

Interview with CFO


Other US Universities That Have Committed to Full Fossil Fuel Divestment

Please note that the list below reflects universities that have committed to fossil fuel divestment. For a full list of universities that have committed to divestment, click here

Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities:

Seattle University, Sept. 2018

Georgetown University, Feb. 2020

Creighton University, Dec. 2020

Loyola University Chicago, Oct. 2021

Neighboring Universites in the Pacific Northwest:

Oregon State University, Jan. 2017

Lewis & Clark College, Feb. 2018

Whitman University, Nov. 2018

Other Notable Universites:

College of the Atlantic, Mar. 2013

  • Less than 24 hours after the divestiture resolution was passed, the college fully divested its approximately $1 million in fossil fuel-related investments.

University of California System, Feb. 2015

  • Following their ESG investment strategy announced in 2015, the UC system's investment portfolios are fossil free after the sale of more than $1 billion in assets from its pension, endowment and working capital pools on May 19th 2020.

Brown University, Mar. 2020

Cornell University, Mar. 2020

American University, Apr. 2020

  • While they never made a public divestment commitment, they fully divested from all public fossil fuel investments which was announced on April 22nd, 2020.

Columbia University, Jan. 2021

Harvard University, Sept. 2021






CEJS Facebook