Seattle University First in the State--and first Jesuit Catholic University in the U.S.--to Divest from Fossil Fuels

Seattle University announced that as of June 30, the university has divested from publicly traded fossil fuels. It is the first college or university in Washington state, and the Jesuit Catholic institution in the United States, to make the move.

Divestment is a process of withdrawing investments from companies that hold fossil fuel reserves such as coal, oil and natural gas. The money Seattle University uses to invest—its endowment, made up of donations to the university—was valued as of June at $285 million. Proceeds from the investments pay for things such as student scholarships.

“Full divestment is in line with our Jesuit values, including a deep commitment to environmental sustainability. Many institutions of higher education have announced their intention to divest from fossil fuel investments, however very few have taken all the steps necessary to do so. Not only has Seattle University completed the entire process, but we’ve also done so within five years as was our original commitment,” said President Eduardo Peñalver. 

Students have been at the forefront of the movement to divest. Seattle University officially began the divestment process in 2018, when the Socially Responsible Investments (SRI) Advisory Working Group of the Board of Trustees made its recommendation  to commit to fully divest from fossil fuels by June 30, 2023.

Since that initial announcement, six other Jesuit universities made some level of commitment to divest, according to the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.

In addition to leading the way for Jesuit universities, Seattle University has shown the path forward for other institutions of higher education in the state. Last year, the University of Washington committed to a deadline of 2027 to exit from direct fossil fuel investments. According to, only 15.7 percent of educational institutions nationwide have made the commitment to divestment.

Though the university is at the end of the five-year divestment process, it is just one part of Seattle University’s ongoing efforts toward building a sustainable community that supports human and ecological health, social justice and economic well-being through Socially Responsible Investing.

And Seattle University continues to lead on issues of sustainability on campus and off, integrating students and the community into environmental efforts. For example, the university’s onsite composting facility annually turns 178,000 pounds of food waste to enrich our sustainable campus beds and Edible Campus Initiative encourages students to take an active role in growing food for harvest and donation, supporting social need for food security and helping care for others.

For media inquiries, contact Lincoln Vander Veen at or 425-830-2448. 


Wednesday, July 12, 2023