Pitt endowment’s first ESG report ‘being finalized’


Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer

The Cathedral of Learning seen from Schenley Plaza.

By Jon Moss, Editor-in-Chief

The first Environmental, Social and Governance report for Pitt’s $5.7 billion endowment is “in the process of being finalized,” officials said Wednesday.

Originally due to be released last December, the report is part of a package of endowment reforms approved in February 2021 by the Board of Trustees following years of student activism around fossil fuel divestment. Officials said at the time that the annual report would “highlight” the “application” of the ESG policy, in particular with fossil fuel investments.

University spokesperson David Seldin said officials are “understandably taking our time to get this right.”

“This is our first time generating an ESG report and the process has extended beyond our original target date,” Seldin said.

Student activists, including the Fossil Free Pitt Coalition, have put pressure for years on the Board to divest from fossil fuels. The pressure campaign, which has included a 12-day sit-in at the Cathedral of Learning and walking out of a Board meeting, led the Board to form an ad-hoc committee to study the issue. The group released a report last year with suggestions on a path forward, and did not recommend that Pitt completely divest from fossil fuels in the near future, instead outlining strategies for continuing to reduce such investments.

The actions adopted by the Board last February include:

  • “Strongly support” implementing the University’s current Environmental, Social and Governance policy and directing endowment management to apply ESG considerations to every endowment investment decision.
  • “Strongly support” the endowment’s current long-term investment strategy, which the report said will reduce private holdings in fossil fuel exploration and production to zero by the end of 2035.
  • Direct the Board’s investment committee to oversee the development of a “long-term” strategy focused on seeking “attractive” investments that “help reduce, avoid and eliminate” greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Increase transparency about the endowment, such as through “support” for Pitt’s commitment to release annual ESG reports, which will “highlight” the application of the ESG policy, in particular with fossil fuel investments, as well as “support” for “regular, clear and accessible University communication, education and engagement” about the endowment’s “aggregate status, trends and current and future fossil fuel” investments, including an annual update to the Board and University community.
  • Not apply a “negative screen” — completely blocking one type of investment — to fossil fuel investments.