Harvard Endowment Hires Environment Head Amid Divestment Demands

Harvard University hired Jameela Pedicini as vice president for sustainable investing, a position created in the wake of student activist calls for the world’s richest school to purge its holdings of fossil-fuel companies.

Pedicini, who most recently was the investment officer for global governance at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, will work for Harvard Management Co., the university-controlled investment arm that oversees more than $30 billion of assets. She will report to Kathryn Murtagh at the Boston-based company and provide support for the university’s committee on shareholder responsibility, according to a statement today.

“As long-term investors, we are acutely focused on factors that may impact the long-term sustainability of Harvard’s endowment portfolio,” Jane Mendillo, the management company’s chief executive officer, said in the release. “Jameela will help strengthen our understanding of these risks and opportunities.”

In the last year, students at hundreds of campuses, including the eight Ivy League schools, have joined a fossil-fuel divestment movement led by activist group 350.org. They are demanding that schools purge their endowments of investments in 200 publicly traded companies with the largest reserves of oil, gas and coal in recognition of their contribution to climate change.

Harvard last year declined to sell its shares in companies such as Rio De Janeiro-based Petroleo Brasileiro SA.

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