Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.51
Liaison Aurora Sharrard
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Pittsburgh
PA-9: Committee on Investor Responsibility

Status Score Responsible Party
2.00 / 2.00 Aurora Sharrard
Director of Sustainability
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have a formally established and active committee on investor responsibility (CIR) or equivalent body?:

The charter or mission statement of the CIR or other body which reflects social and environmental concerns or a brief description of how the CIR is tasked to address social and environmental concerns:

The University of Pittsburgh's formal history of applying environmental, social, and governance considerations to its Endowment dates back to the late 1970s when the Board of Trustees’ Investment Committee (IC) added a “Social Responsibility” section to its governing documents. That statement verifies that the IC can take risk into account in its investments, but clearly states that the IC Committee shall not apply non-financial constraints to investments unless the Board directs them to.
Reference: https://www.trustees.pitt.edu/sites/default/files/statement_of_governance.pdf

Resultantly, there are two answers to the question about whether and how the University of Pittsburgh has a formally established and active committee on investor responsibility. 1) The Board of Trustees Investment Committee and 2) Other Pitt Board and Community Committees focused on Socially Responsible Investing over the past 3 years.


As a committee of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pittsburgh, the Investment Committee provides advice to the Chief Investment Officer of the University regarding the management of the University endowment. The Investment Committee’s responsibilities include (but are not necessarily limited to) the approval of endowment investment guidelines, objectives and spending policies, and the review of the selection of investment advisers and consultants and the review of the performance of investments.

The Investment Committee’s Statement of Governance for Pitt's Consolidated Endowment Fund clearly states, “the Committee shall not apply non-financial constraints pertaining to investment holdings of the CEF unless there is a situation of such magnitude that the Board specifically directs the Committee to consider such non-financial parameters.” Reference: https://www.trustees.pitt.edu/sites/default/files/statement_of_governance.pdf

However, in March 2020, the University’s Office of Finance established a “Consolidated Endowment Fund Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Policy Statement” (“ESG Policy”). Developed by the University’s Office of Finance and shared with the Board’s Investment Committee, the ESG Policy clarifies further the University’s approach to integrating considerations of ESG factors (including related risks and value-creation opportunities) into its decision-making processes. Many of the factors now labeled “ESG factors” have been an essential element of the University’s investment processes for years.
ESG Policy: https://cfo.pitt.edu/documents/ESGPolicyFinal3-25-20.pdf

As such, University's investment team discusses and documents ESG on every new investment commitment. Because the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees oversees the institution’s investments, it reviews application of environmental, social, and governance considerations to University investments.


In January 2018, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher created the University of Pittsburgh’s Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) Committee, tasking them with reviewing and assessing the:

• Approaches that other universities and nonprofits have taken in determining whether or not they will pursue socially responsible investing strategies;
• Relative merits and trade-offs of different approaches, including commercial SRI funds; and
• Factors to consider when developing an effective socially responsible investment strategy.

Learn more about the 2018-19 SRI Committee: https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/2019-sri-committee-report/

The 2018-19 SRI Committee submitted its report to the Chancellor in April 2019. In July 2019, The CFO's Office released the SRI Committee's report; a simultaneous a statement was made by Chancellor Patrick Gallagher including thanks to the SRI Committee “for investing your time and energy in this initiative and for aiding in our exploration of SRI strategies that may be suitable for further consideration.”

April 2029 Report of the 2018-19 SRI Committee: https://cfo.pitt.edu/documents/SRI-Committee-Report_Final.pdf


On February 28, 2020, the University of Pittsburgh’s Board of Trustees adopted a Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) screening process. This process will consider persistent societal concerns raised by students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the community.


At its June 26, 2020 meeting, the University of Pittsburgh’s Board of Trustees activated the SRI Screening Process it adopted in February 2020 to create an "Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels" of the Board of Trustees that studied whether the University should divest its endowment from fossil fuels. The Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels was chaired by Board Member Dawne Hickton (Pitt Law ’83), is comprised entirely of Board members, and reports to the Board Chairperson and Chancellor.

Following extensive consultations over six months with members of the University community, representatives of peer institutions, and financial experts, the Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels delivered its draft report of findings and options to Board Chairman Thomas E. Richards on January 15, 2021.

Over the course of six months, the Committee held 12 meetings that included 11 interviews with nine subject matter experts, accepted online public comment submission over a one-month period, and reviewed a substantial number of background reference documents and materials submitted to the Ad Hoc Committee via public comment. The Ad Hoc Committee also held two Open Forums for members of the University community and the general public on October 28, 2020, and October 30, 2020; transcripts from both Forums are available online.
To read Forum transcripts: https://www.trustees.pitt.edu/committee-fossil-fuels/public-forums

On February 26, 2021, the Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels' report was accepted by the Board of Trustees in full, including all findings and options, which will now be implemented by the University (including greater transparency into Endowment holdings and a 2021 ESG Report). At that time, the Board of Trustees dissolved the Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels.

Learn more about the 2020-21 Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels of the Board of Trustees: https://www.trustees.pitt.edu/fossil-fuels

Does the CIR include academic staff representation?:

Does the CIR include non-academic staff representation?:

Does the CIR include student representation?:

Members of the CIR, including affiliations and role:

Membership in two separate committees spanning 2018 through present are summarized below:
1) 2018-19 Socially Responsible Investing Committee
2) 2020-21 Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels of the Board of Trustees


Through April 2019, Members of the original SRI Committee included:

• CHAIR - Dr. David Denis, Faculty, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business;
• Dr. CB Bhattacharya, Faculty, Katz School of Business;
• Dr. Ronald Brand, Faculty, School of Law;
• Dr. Emily Elliott, Faculty, Geology & Environmental Science
• Dr. Michael Goodhart, Faculty, Department of Political Science;
• Young Sarah Grguras, Undergraduate Student & Active Member, Fossil Free Pitt Coalition.
• Marguerite Kennedy, Undergraduate Student & President, Pitt Student Government Board (replaced Max Kneis upon his 2018 graduation from Pitt);
• Max Kneis Undergraduate Student & President, Pitt Student Government Board;
• Sera Linardi, Faculty Graduate School of Public & International Affairs; and
• Clayton Steup, Staff, Assistant Director of Admissions.

Liaisons to the committee also included:
• Dr. Kathy Humphrey, Senior Vice Chancellor for Engagement and Secretary of the Board of Trustees
• Dr. Aurora Sharrard, Director of Sustainability, Office of Sustainability


Created in June 2020 and meeting into 2021, the University of Pittsburgh’s Board of Trustees's Ad Hoc Commitee Committee on Fossil Fuels has the following members:
• CHAIR - Dawne S. Hickton, Member, Board of Trustees
• Sundaa Bridgett-Jones, Member, Board of Trustees
• Edward J. Grefenstette, Member, Board of Trustees
• Diane P. Holder, Member, Board of Trustees
• John A. Maher III, Member, Board of Trustees
• Marlee S. Myers, Member, Board of Trustees
• Herbert S. Shear, Member, Board of Trustees

Senior University administrator staff who participated in discussions included:
• Chancellor Patrick Gallagher also participated in the Ad Hoc
• Dr. Kathy W. Humphrey, Senior Vice Chancellor of Engagement and Secretary of the Board of Trustees.
• Narahari Sastry, Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer (Senior Administrator Liaison to the Ad Hoc Committee).

The Ad Hoc Committee's Liaison Support Team included:
• Natalie Carter, Office of Finance
• Kimberly L. Honath, Office of the Secretary
• Dr. Aurora Sharrard, Director of Sustainability for the University.

Examples of CIR actions during the previous three years:

• January 2018 - Chancellor Patrick Gallagher created a Socially Responsible (SRI) Committee of faculty, students, and staff "to investigate and provide a foundation of facts that could be used by the University to explore socially responsible investment (SRI) strategies that may be suitable for consideration for the University’s endowment."
• January 2018 through April 2019 – Pitt’s SRI Committee "met numerous times, conducted a literature search on relevant topics, collected data on SRI funds and their relative performance and costs, analyzed stated SRI practices of a limited set of other universities with large endowments, and solicited the views of the University of Pittsburgh’s community and stakeholders through two open forums and a public online forum."
• April 2019 – SRI Committee completes its report.
• August 2019 – Chancellor directs Office of Finance to: 1) Develop ESG criteria to positively screen investments; 2) Establish clear approach for screening proposed investment exclusions to the Board of Trustees; and 3) Expand and leverage the University’s long-term sustainability plan.
• February 2020 – Board adopts SRI Screening Process
• March 2020 - University releases ESG Policy
• June 2020 – Board decides to create Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels.
• August 2020 – Board Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels charged by Board Chair to provide a report on “options on whether, to what extent, and via what methods the University, in its Endowment, should consider divestment from fossil fuels in existing and/or future investments.”
• January 2021 – Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels provides its report to Board Chair.
• February 2021 – BOT adopts Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels’ reporting, including all findings and options.

Website URL where information about the institution’s committee on investor responsibility is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees Investment Committee: https://www.trustees.pitt.edu/investment-committee

2018-19 Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Committee:

Chancellor's July 2019 Statement on the SRI Committee's Report: https://www.chancellor.pitt.edu/spotlight/socially-responsible-investment-committee-report

2020 Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) Screening Process adopted by the Board of Trustees: https://www.trustees.pitt.edu/sites/default/files/osec-docs/socially_responsible_investing_screening_process.pdf

2020-21 Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels of the Board of Trustees: https://www.trustees.pitt.edu/fossil-fuels

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.