Investments

Ensuring our funds are managed with a triple-bottom-line perspective that takes into consideration the economic, social and environmental impacts of our investments.

UofL’s 2020 Plan measures our progress in sustainability based upon the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The STARS framework stresses the influence of a university’s investment policies and strategies on social and environmental well-being and the importance of establishing an engaged, broadly-representative Committee on Investor Responsiblity, making positive sustainability investments, and performing shareholder advocacy for greater social and environmental responsibility.

We are also aided in this effort and exchange ideas and information with other schools through the Responsible Endowments Coalition.

UofL was one of two schools highlighted as having best practices for Investment Disclosure by the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s September 2014 Report:College Endowment Investment Trends and Best Practices: An Analysis of STARS Data

Investments held in UofL's endowment

UofL's endowment is managed by the UofL Foundation. As of September 2015, we estimated UofL's total mission-related investments at 1.85% of the University's total endowment. Most of these are community economic development funds, but also included are climate change equities. Funds include: Kentucky Seed Fund, Chrysalis II & III, Triathlon, and Capital South.

At the request of the Sustainable Endowments Institute, we've posted snapshots of our investment portfolio, available to the public online here. The most recent snapshots from June 30, 2015 are available here:

Prior Snapshots:

In a previous reporting in September 2013, we had estimated UofL's total mission-related investments at 2.2% of the University's total endowment. Most of these were also community economic development funds and some climate change equities. In 2013, funds included: Kentucky Seed Fund, Chrysalis Ventures, Metro Bank CDs, Triathlon, Capital South, and Wellington DIH. At the time, the trend in UofL sustainability-related investments had been in a positive direction:

  • Estimated value of holdings in sustainability investment funds, as of April 2010: $2,134,871.
  • Estimated value of holdings in community development financial institutions, as of September 2013: $9,470,560

More information about the University's finances is available here.

In March 2015, UofL's primary financial services provider, PNC Bank, announced that it would no longer finance coal-mining companies that pursue the environmentally devastating practice of mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia. Read more.

Shareholder Advocacy

In July 2016, UofL began participating in shareholder advocacy through a contract with Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) to help us manage our proxy voting at shareholder meetings.

UofL’s new Committee on Investor Responsibility examined the proxy voting guidelines available through ISS and decided that the package which most closely aligns with UofL's mission and goals is the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Proxy Voting Guidelines. UofL uses these guidelines to vote on all shareholder resolutions for companies in which we are directly invested.

Committee on Investor Responsibility

In fall 2016, UofL formed a new Committee on Investor Responsibility (CIR) with broad representation from UofL students (including SGA, Cards United Against Sweatshops, and the Student Finance Club), faculty, staff, and Foundation representatives. The committee's initial charge was to:

  1. Decide on an appropriate proxy voting policy;
  2. Determine whether and under what conditions we should be initiating shareholder resolutions;
  3. Work to establish a student-managed, socially-responsible investment fund as part of the endowment; and
  4. Work to develop a general investment policy for the university/foundation as a whole.

Those interested in joining the Committee on Investor Responsibility should contact the Chair, Avery Kolers (502-852-0453).

Student-Managed Socially-Responsible Investment Fund

In 2017-18, UofL piloted a new full-circle, Student Sustainability Fund through which students in a fall Finance class learn about and gain real-world experience with Socially-Responsible Investing during the fall semester; and then, in the spring semester, students in a Social Change class learn about and gain real-world experience with Student Philanthropy to support local projects and organizations working to implement sustainability.

On April 6, 2018, UofL launched an Arbor Day to Earth Day crowdfunding campaign to create the new Student Sustainability Fund. From April 6-22, 2018, friends of UofL were encouraged to help us unlock a donor match: When we raise $5,000 for the Student Sustainability Fund, Just Money Advisors, a Louisville-based company, pledged to give $5,000 towards the fund! Gifts of all sizes helped unlock this matching gift. By supporting the Student Sustainability Fund you are investing in high-value, hands-on education for 21st century social responsibility. The SSF is a unique fund, separate from the rest of the endowment, which uses the fund itself as a pedagogical tool. First, Finance students in the College of Business do some real-world socially responsible investing by selecting funds, investing real dollars, managing the fund, and voting their proxies. All investments and proxy votes will be researched and selected by students, subject to the university’s sustainable investments policy. Then, Social Change students in the College of Arts & Sciences will use the proceeds to fund local nonprofit or philanthropic projects either on or off campus. They research local nonprofits and allocate funds in a way that builds capacity or enhances sustainability. Thus the Student Sustainability Fund puts donors’ resources directly to work for educational enrichment and social change. Donate today!

Prof Cherie Dawson-Edwards Social Change course +founder of A Future In HOPE Youth ServicesIn April 2018, students in Professor Cherie Dawson-Edwards' Social Change course selected the inaugural beneficiary of the Student Sustainability Fund: A Future In H.O.P.E. Youth Services, a local non-profit organization dedicated to housing and mentoring youth who are in the state's custody and getting ready to age out of the foster care system.

2010-12 Committee on Socially Responsible Investing

In November 2010, Provost Willihnganz charged a new university-wide Committee on Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) with making recommendations to the President and Provost on financially, socially and environmentally responsible investment opportunities across asset classes and other related recommendations as appropriate, including shareholder advocacy and proxy voting.

The Committee had multi-stakeholder representation and provided a structure for fostering dialogue on investment opportunities, and helping the UofL Foundation make responsible investments that ensure financial health for UofL while promoting sustainability in the wider world. The Committee researched investment opportunities that would compliment the University’s mission, its resource requirements, and its commitment to sustainability.

The committee's recommendations were approved by the administration in June 2012, as follows:

    1. Establish a permanent Socially Responsible Investment Advisory Committee – the establishment of such a committee should move forward immediately and its first task should be to develop a policy for proxy voting. The Provost agreed to work with appropriate parties to appoint members.
    2. Contract with a qualified service to make recommendations for UofL investment proxy voting to promote sustainability; and
    3. Adopt a broad policy statement for proxy voting.

    Socially-Responsible Retirement Funds

    UofL offers employees socially-responsible investment options for employee retirement plans. These options are designed to give you investment income for a secure retirement while putting money behind companies you can feel good about. Options include:

      1. CREF Social Choice Account. Investing in companies that are: strong stewards of the environment, devoted to serving local communities, committed to higher labor standards, and managed ethically. More information available in this overview (pdf) or online here.
      2. TIAA-CREF Social Choice Equity Fund. The fund's investments are subject to certain environmental, social and governance criteria. The evaluation process favors companies that are strong stewards of the environment; devoted to serving local communities; committed to higher labor standards; dedicated to producing high-quality and safe products; and those managed in an exemplary or ethical manner. More information available online here.
      3. Fidelity Select Environment and Alternative Energy Portfolio. Investing primarily in companies engaged in business activities related to alternative and renewable energy, energy efficiency, pollution control, water infrastructure, waste and recycling technologies, or other environmental support services. More information available online here.

      More information about UofL's employee benefits and our human resources policies are available here.