Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 86.01
Liaison Patrick McKee
Submission Date March 6, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Connecticut
PA-9: Sustainable Investment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.27 / 4.00 Richard Miller
Director
Ofice of Environmental Policy
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution wish to pursue Option 1 (positive sustainability investment)?:
Yes

Total value of the investment pool:
404,396,641 US/Canadian $

Value of holdings in each of the following categories:
Value of Holdings
Sustainable industries (e.g. renewable energy or sustainable forestry) 16,592,778.78 US/Canadian $
Businesses selected for exemplary sustainability performance (e.g. using criteria specified in a sustainable investment policy) 0 US/Canadian $
Sustainability investment funds (e.g. a renewable energy or impact investment fund) 0 US/Canadian $
Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) or the equivalent 0 US/Canadian $
Socially responsible mutual funds with positive screens (or the equivalent) 0 US/Canadian $
Green revolving loan funds that are funded from the endowment 0 US/Canadian $

A brief description of the companies, funds, and/or institutions referenced above:

The UConn Foundation’s Investment Committee, in its role as a prudent steward of institutional assets, will be aware of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles as well as established Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) principles in its investment process. Within the context of its fiduciary responsibilities, including the duty to achieve maximized, risk-adjusted investment returns, the Investment Committee will consider such principles on an ongoing basis in the administration of the Foundation’s investment portfolio. The Committee has made social and environmental responsibility an explicit part of its mission and regular component of its investment process.

Over the years, the UConn Foundation has invested in a number of opportunities that are both financially-rewarding and socially-impactful such as solar farms, sustainable farming, residential power storage devices, and coal exhaust capture technology.


Percentage of the institution's investment pool in positive sustainability investments:
4.10

Does the institution wish to pursue Option 2 (investor engagement)?:
Yes

Does the institution have a publicly available sustainable investment policy?:
Yes

A copy of the sustainable investment policy:
The sustainable investment policy:

The UConn Foundation’s investment policy is focused on governance, low volatility investment returns, institutional liquidity and investment manager selection. Issues that are controversial or relate to social issues are reviewed on a case by case basis to incorporate their potential long-term economic impacts through the monitoring of released quarterly reports from fund managers in relevant investments.

https://www.foundation.uconn.edu/statement-on-socially-responsible-investing/

Furthermore, the UConn Foundation changed fund managers in early 2020 to BlackRock, which now manages the entire UConn Foundation investment portfolio. BlackRock has pledged no further investment in coal and committed to begin exiting current investments in any companies that generate more than a quarter of their revenue from coal production. By extension, UConn must abide by those same terms. Since UConn already holds no direct shares in coal, we will also not be able to acquire any directly-held shares going forward.

BlackRock’s Pledge: https://financeeurope.solarenergyevents.com/2020/01/16/blackrock-pledges-to-divest-from-coal-take-active-role-in-energy-transition/


Does the institution use its sustainable investment policy to select and guide investment managers?:
Yes

A brief description of how the policy is applied, including recent examples:

The Foundation Investment Committee considers ESG and SRI principles on an ongoing basis in the administration of the Foundation’s investment portfolio. This policy has guided the Committee’s decisions to invest in socially-impactful opportunities, such as solar farms, sustainable farming, residential power storage devices, and coal exhaust capture technology.


Has the institution engaged in proxy voting, either by its CIR or other committee or through the use of guidelines, to promote sustainability during the previous three years?:
No

A copy of the proxy voting guidelines or proxy record:
---

A brief description of how managers are adhering to proxy voting guidelines:
---

Has the institution filed or co-filed one or more shareholder resolutions that address sustainability or submitted one or more letters about social or environmental responsibility to a company in which it holds investments during the previous three years?:
No

Examples of how the institution has engaged with corporations in its portfolio about sustainability issues during the previous three years:

The Foundation does not have any direct holdings of companies with which to file shareholder resolutions. All Foundation funds are in co-mingled funds with different fund managers.

However, in response to the recent strides to encourage endowments to divest from fossil fuels, there have been letters of opinion to encourage the University of Connecticut to take the necessary actions to make sure the endowment portfolio is vetted for the ownership in fossil-fuel companies. For example, in response to the 350.org campaign, Dr. William Upholt (http://regenerativemedicine.uchc.edu/faculty/bios/upholt.html) wrote a letter to former UConn President Herbst addressing concerns about responsible investing by UConn. The UConn Foundation states that there are no direct holdings or ownership of public companies who are direct producers of fossil fuels.


Does the institution have a publicly available investment policy with negative screens?:
Yes

A brief description of the negative screens and how they have been implemented:

The Foundation has requested fund managers to consider divestment and to provide information on relevant holdings in order to track overall exposure to Sudan related holdings. The Foundation has reviewed its funds to monitor and gauge the extent of any holdings of fossil fuel companies or investments in the Sudan region through analysis and monitoring of quarterly reports. While the social justice issues in Sudan surfaced on a mainstream scale approximately a decade ago, these issues continue to persist today. The article linked below outlines these continued human rights issues within Sudan. The Foundation’s Investment Committee remains committed to ensuring that its investments uphold the University’s values and belief in social responsibility.
https://thedoddcenter.uconn.edu/2020/01/17/views-a-need-for-justice-in-sudan/

Furthermore, the UConn Foundation possesses no direct holdings of fossil fuel producing companies, and on March 2nd, 2020 UConn's University Senate submitted a resolution in support of the University of Connecticut Foundation Divesting from Fossil Fuel Companies. (Attached below)


Approximate percentage of the endowment that the negative screens apply to:
100

Does the institution engage in policy advocacy by participating in investor networks and/or engage in inter-organizational collaborations to share best practices?:
No

A brief description of the investor networks and/or collaborations:
---

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The UConn Foundation Investment Committee is actively drafting an updated Sustainable Investment Policy. The Foundation has engaged numerous student and faculty groups on campus to discuss concerns, preferences, and best practices around this topic.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.