An activist group of Harvard University alumni opposed to the fossil-fuel industry won three of the five seats on the college’s Board of Overseers up for election this year. The victory is part of the group’s campaign to force Harvard’s $40 billion endowment to end its investments in oil-and-gas companies.
The election results could embolden similar movements at other U.S. universities, which are increasingly deciding to pull their money out of fossil fuels. An organization at Yale University that is affiliated with the Harvard activists is running a candidate for a seat on its board of trustees to put pressure on the school’s roughly $30 billion endowment.
“This win proves that alumni want Harvard to be a leader in the fight against the climate crisis,” said Jayson Toweh, an Environmental Protection Agency program analyst and Harvard alumnus who won one of the seats, in a statement.
Harvard and Yale run two of the largest university endowments, and investment managers at campuses across the country view them as bellwethers.
Harvard’s Board of Overseers doesn’t supervise the school’s endowment but takes part in appointing members to the Harvard Corporation, which oversees managers of the endowment.