The University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents appointed the members of a task group to examine the feasibility and desirability of the university divesting itself (selling off) of investments in companies involved in fossil fuel production, as well as examine the board’s policies and goals for the university concerning sustainability. The task group, to be chaired by Board of Regents Vice Chair Jan Sullivan, will gather information and suggest proposed actions to the board’s Committee on Budget and Finance for consideration and submittal to the full board.

Members of the task group are Regents Sullivan, Coralie Matayoshi and Helen Nielsen and Student Regent Michelle Tagorda; also UH Mānoa graduate student Joy Leilei Shih, undergraduate student and Mānoa student sustainability coordinator Doorae Shin, faculty member Joe Mobley and appropriate representatives of the UH administration. Several of the appointed members testified earlier this month at a committee meeting, urging the regents to take a strong stand to support divesting its endowment funds from fossil fuel companies.

“We listened to the many voices that united to bring this issue to our attention and we acknowledge their concerns,” said Sullivan, who also chairs the Board of Regents Committee on Budget and Finance. “I am optimistic this group will come back to the committee and the board with thoughtfully considered actions we can take, mindful of our overarching fiduciary responsibility to UH’s financial health and good returns on our investments.”

Brodie Lockard, spokesperson for DivestUH, said, “DivestUH is very grateful to the regents, and to everyone who has supported this effort in ways large and small. This is the kind of leadership Hawaiʻi—and the country—needs. We are eager to contribute our best, both to exploring how UH might divest, and to helping shape policy that will bring UH to its proper place as an international example of environmental stewardship.”

The task group is expected to meet with the university’s investment manager, hear from other concerned groups, and investigate other public universities’ policies in this area, and to make recommendations on divestment by April 30 and on general sustainability policies by June 30.