Endowment Value: $30.3 billion (June 2019)
Yale University is a private research university located in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, Yale is the third-oldest higher education institution in the United States and has a total student body of more than 12,000. Its endowment is managed by the Investments Office under the guidance of Yale’s Investment Committee and led by Chief Investment Officer David F. Swenson.
Yale was one of the first institutions to formally address the ethical responsibilities of institutional investors. In the 1970s, Yale established the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility (ACIR) and the Corporation Committee on Investor Responsibility (CCIR) to address issues of socially responsible investing. The ACIR and CCIR recommend policy to the Yale Corporation, the university’s governing body, and implement approved policy.
In 2014, in response to pressure from the student group Fossil Free Yale, the CCIR and ACIR explored the possibility of fossil fuel divestment. As a result of this discussion, the CCIR adopted a proxy voting guideline on climate change, instructing managers to support “shareholder resolutions seeking company disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions, analyses of the impact of climate change on a company’s business activities, strategies designed to reduce the company’s long-term impact on the global climate, and company support of sound and effective governmental policies on climate change."
Climate change was officially announced as a consideration in Yale’s investment strategy in April 2016. In a letter to the ACIR, CIO David Swensen wrote, “the Investments Office approaches the climate change issue more broadly by considering any exposure with risk related to climate change and potential regulations aimed at reducing emissions.” Swensen also reported that after months of talking with Yale’s external investment managers about the potential risks associated with investments in coal and oil, around $10 million of the endowment has been removed from two publicly-traded fossil fuel producers.
Yale currently has a robust student-managed socially responsible investment fund. Established in 2016 and initially seeded with $50,000 from the Dwight Hall organization endowment, the fund’s main goal is to outperform standard investment benchmarks and maximize financial return while positively contributing to social impact areas including the environment, education, and employment.
Yale University is a participant or member of the following Initiatives & Commitments:
- AASHE STARS: Yes, Silver
- ACUPCC: No
- Billion Dollar Green Challenge: No
- CDP: No
- Committee for Investor Responsibility: Yes
- Divestment Goal: Yes, partial
- INCR: No
- Montreal Carbon Pledge: No
- Sustainable Investment Fund: Yes
- Sustainable Investment Policy: Yes
- Principles for Responsible Investment: No
Other Sustainable Investing Practices:
- Dwight Hall Student-Managed SRI Fund
- David Swenson's letter to the Yale Community: "Impacts of Investments Office Climate Change Letter" (April 2016)
- David Swenson's (Chief Investment Officer) letter to Investment Managers (August 2014)
- Student-led Dwight Hall SRI Fund files shareholder resolution with ExxonMobil (January 2016)
- Ethical Investment Policy - Yale Investments Office
- Yale Sustainability
- Yale Statement Regarding Endowment Investment Policy (August 2018)
- Update on Yale's Approach to CLimate Change and Investing | February 20, 2020