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UO Foundation: Investing Responsibly

From Board Chair Jon P. Anderson

Last week, the Associated Students of the University of Oregon election brought half a dozen ballot measures to voters. Among these initiatives was a non-binding statement recommending the University of Oregon Foundation cease its investments in fossil fuels. We appreciate the engaged student body and are honored to help support a campus environment that encourages free and open debate. While we don't feel that divestment is the best strategy at this time, we have and will continue to make investment decisions as global citizens aligned with the UO community.

The environmental impact of our investments is a crucial consideration in our policies. In fact, the UO Foundation became the first PAC-12 Conference institution to incorporate environmental, social and governance considerations into its investment policy last year. These principles are important factors in our investment strategies, and we select managers who embrace and employ these policies.

In addition, the Foundation has made a commitment to increasing investments in green initiatives. Nearly a decade ago, we began investment in sustainable forestry. Since then, investments have been made in solar installations, wind farms, biomass plants, coal-to-gas power plant conversions and, most recently, west coast organic farming. These green initiatives total nine percent of the endowment; the Foundation’s investment in carbon-based fuel sources comprises less than one percent.

As required by state law, the Foundation operates as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We manage more than $900 million in assets— including a $600 million endowment. Our governing decisions are made by the independent Board of Trustees, whose legal obligation is to support the university’s mission. We do this as the fiduciary with a responsibility to maximize returns on investment. While we welcome input from all facets of the community, we must hold this charge as paramount.

The Foundation carefully stewards the endowment to provide stable funding support for the students, faculty, and staff that make up the UO community. This support can be seen on campus through endowed professorships, scholarships, and study abroad programs, just to name a few.

Our long-term success is the result of a strong, independent governance model, coupled with a disciplined investment policy that employs thoughtful decision-making and sophisticated asset allocation. Our unwavering dedication to this investment philosophy has resulted in top-quarter peer performance over the past decade.

As a Trustee since 2004, I am proud of the Foundation’s prudent endowment management and the environmentally oriented policies we have implemented that will guide us into the future. The Foundation Board of Trustees is mindful of the environmental impact of our investment decisions but will continue to put our primary responsibility —maintaining the endowment’s purchasing power— at the forefront of our decision-making.

Jon P. Anderson serves as chair of the University of Oregon Foundation Board of Trustees and has lived in Eugene 62 of his 64 years.