RISD to Divest from Fossil-Fuel Companies

By ecoRI News staff

PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island School of Design is the state’s first university to divest from fossil fuels. At its May meeting last week, RISD’s board of trustees voted unanimously to divest the college endowment from investments in fossil fuel extraction-company stocks and bonds. The decision came after a two-year study.

“Your board believes this is the right action to take,” Michael Spalter, the board’s chairman, wrote in a June 1 e-mail to faculty, staff and students.

In March 2013, the faculty voted to divest from fossil fuels. In April of that year, students held a sit-in in the office of then-college president John Maeda. The students presented their case for divestment to the trustees at its annual meeting in May of that year.

"As a board we thoroughly considered many factors prior to reaching this decision," Spalter said, "and I’m proud of the outcome."

“We did it,” was a recent post on the Divest RISD Facebook page.

Students divestment campaigns at Brown University and the University of Rhode Island have been rejected by each one’s governing board.

The Providence City Council voted to divest city investments from fossil-fuel companies in 2013.