Mary Washington

Noah Goodwin of Mary Washington, right, and Moira Hula of the University of Virginia led a rally outside the Department of Environmental Quality, Monday March 7, 2016

FREDERICKISBURG — One year ago, University of Mary Washington student activists staged a sit-in outside President Rick Hurley’s office to demand an end to fossil fuel investments in the school’s $41.4 million endowment. University officials passed a resolution Friday doing just that.

The board of visitors voted to make divestment from fossil fuel companies an official policy.

The move came after three years of protests and petitions from the student-led Divest UMW group. About 50 members of Divest UMW watched the vote Friday and then left the room to cheer their victory.

“We’re ecstatic,” Divest UMW member Sarah Kinzer said. “We’re absolutely counting this as a win.”

The resolution requests that the UMW Foundation revise its investment policy to limit discretionary fossil fuel investments to a range of 1 to 4 percent. The university’s endowment will be 96 to 100 percent free of the “carbon 200” — the largest 200 companies profiting from fossil fuels. It also requests an annual report on the endowment’s divestment.

The move comes on the heels of a study conducted by a special subcommittee of the President’s Council on Sustainability.

Hurley, who requested the study and put forth the resolution, said the decision will reflect the school’s moral and political aims, support its goal of being an environmental sustainability leader, and draw environmentally minded students.

“The board of visitors takes seriously its fiduciary responsibility to protect the foundation’s investment of UMW’s endowment,” said Rector Holly Cuellar. “At the same time, it is important that this university continue to be a leader on the sustainability front and that we remain vigilant in seeking additional ways to demonstrate our commitment to the environment.”

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