Regents Dismiss UC Faculty Vote for Divestment

After a three-year campaign and a laborious process of approving and preparing a “memorial” statement and ballot for the Office of the President to send to faculty members, this June 77% of UC faculty voters voted YES to ask the Regents to divest UC’s endowment from fossil fuels.  Organizers and supporters were jubilant, but the moment of triumph was short-lived. When the memorial was presented to the UC Regents at their July 17 meeting, the results were basically ignored.

The Regent’s response was limited to a statement by Chair of the Investments Committee,  Regent Roger Sherman, that re-iterated their previous anti-divestment position. This statement argued that insofar as their investments are concerned, the Regents are required by their ‘fiduciary responsibility’ to consider the Climate Crisis just like any other ‘material risk’. ‘Fiduciary responsibility’ refers to the obligation of the Regents to act in the best financial interests of the University. ‘Material risk’ refers to any actual risk to the value of a stock. Sherman further noted that for the past five years, he and Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Bachher have not found good investment opportunities in fossil fuel stocks. Critically, he did not commit to a time table for divestment, or even rule out that UC would purchase fossil fuel stocks in the future. The UC Public Affairs Office declined to comment whether the statement had been voted upon or authorized by the Regents as a whole, or by any group of Regents, or to give any information as to how that statement had been arrived at.

The Fossil Free UC Facebook page said: “We are beyond disappointed and frustrated in the Regents’ lack of support and appropriate action in regards to the recent Academic Senate Resolution on Divestment. Our movement will speak louder and work harder, for our call for divestment and goal of a clean and more equitable future will not be ignored. To all of our supporters who have followed us along this journey, thank you. We hope to have better news soon.”

The minutes of the Regents’ July 17 meeting have not yet been published.  The next opportunities for public comment will be at the Regents’ meetings on September 18-19 – Regents Meeting (UCLA) and November 13-14 – Regents Meeting (UCSF Mission Bay); written comments can be sent to:  regentsoffice@ucop.edu.