News: Press Releases

December 8, 2014

UMass Foundation creates Socially Responsible Investing Advisory Committee

  • The UMass System
Formation of panel comes amid University’s continued leadership on environmental sustainability

BOSTON – Dec. 8, 2014: The University of Massachusetts Foundation, which manages the University’s endowment, today announced the creation of a Socially Responsible Investing Advisory Committee to consider divestment issues raised by students, faculty, alumni and other members of the UMass community.

“Universities should be places for rigorous debate, and we always welcome and encourage debate around current social issues as they relate to our own policies and practices,” said UMass President Robert L. Caret, who is also President of the UMass Foundation.

The eight-member Committee, which consists of faculty, administrators, alumni and students, will serve as a forum in which social investment issues such as environmental sustainability can be raised, discussed and reviewed.  The Committee will consider proposals brought forth by members of the University community to determine whether they warrant further consideration by the Foundation’s Board of Directors. 

“While the Foundation’s primary investment consideration must be asset returns so that we can fulfill the intentions of our donors in perpetuity and support the University’s multiple public service missions, we welcome input on the social issues that surround investing.  This committee will provide the opportunity for that input,” said Charles J. Pagnam, vice president for advancement of the University and executive vice president of the UMass Foundation.

One of the most recent social issues surrounding investing is environmental sustainability.   While divestment represents one approach to reducing the use of fossil fuels, there are numerous other strategies available to pursue the same goal, many of which are already being employed by UMass.  The University’s sustainability efforts include reducing its own energy use, academic programs, student engagement and research.  Examples of the University’s accomplishments in this area follow:

  • Since the University president and five chancellors signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2007, the University has succeeded in reducing its carbon emissions by 18 percent.
  • Despite a 16 percent growth in total square footage at UMass Amherst since 2002, the campus has been able to reduce total Greenhouse Gas emissions by 27 percent through green building design and management
  • The Commonwealth’s first Level-3 electric-vehicle fast charger was installed at UMass Amherst earlier this year.  Available to members of both the University community and public, the fast-chargers make it easier and more attractive to use electric vehicles.
  • UMass Amherst has developed an international reputation for faculty research in the alternative energy area.  Among projects of note are Professor Susan Leschine’s discovery of the Q Microbe and Professor Derek Lovely’s Geobachter work.
  • UMass Amherst has been recognized for pioneering work on climate change led by Professor Raymond Bradley, Director of the UMass Climate System Research Center, whose research in this area began in the Arctic in 1970.
  • The entire UMass system has strongly embraced wind energy, from an array of faculty research across the campuses to the implementation of wind-energy technology on the campuses.
  • UMass Dartmouth has developed coating for wind turbine blades that reduce wear and tear, enabling them to last longer and further reducing the cost of wind energy production.
  • UMass Dartmouth’s wind turbine and solar panel array, when fully operational, will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 22 million pounds annually.
  • UMass Dartmouth is developing technology that generates power from the ocean and tidal currents
  • UMass Boston launched the world’s first Ph.D. program in Green Chemistry. Also known as Sustainable Chemistry, the discipline involves the design of products and processes that minimize the use and generation of hazardous substances.
  • UMass Boston is engaged in the field of climate resilience, which involves absorbing the stresses imposed by climate change, an important issue for a harbor campus and a coastal community.
  • UMass Lowell students recently designed, built and tested a prototype solar and electric-powered quadricycle that can reach speeds of up to 25 mph without using a single drop of gasoline.  The prototype is more than six times as efficient as the most advanced energy-efficient automobile on the road.
  • A new National Science Foundation funded research center at UMass Lowell will bring wind-energy industry and research experts together to tackle wind energy’s challenges and further grow the field.
  • The UMass Medical School-UMass Memorial campus burns primarily natural gas to produce 100 percent of the steam required for heat.  It is served by a co-generation power plant that significantly reduces the amount of fuel that would otherwise be needed to produce the electricity it needs.
  • The UMass Medical School-UMass Memorial campus diverts some of its organic waste to a local farm as part of its ambitious goal to increase the amount of waste it recycles from 30 percent to 50 percent.

“Environmental sustainability is an important societal issue, one of many on which UMass is demonstrating continued leadership,” said President Caret.  “The formation of the Socially Responsible Investing Committee is one more way the University is making a commitment to ensuring that these issues become part of the dialogue in the university community as well as in the Commonwealth.”

The Socially Responsible Investing Advisory Committee, officially announced at the annual meeting of the UMass Foundation Board of Directors today, consists of the following members:

  • David Basile, Senior Vice President/Wealth Management for Janney Montgomery Scott and a 1976 graduate of UMass Lowell (then Lowell Technological Institute) with a B.S. in Business Administration.
  • Stephen Dunne, Managing Director of the Private Banking North America business in Credit Suisse Securities (USA), a member of the UMass Foundation, a former U.S. Army officer, and a 1989 graduate of UMass Amherst with a B.S., in Mechanical Engineering.
  • Christine Wilda, Senior Vice President and Treasurer in the UMass President’s office, who holds both a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting and a Master’s in Business Administration from UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management.
  • John Kennedy, Vice Chancellor for University Relations at UMass Amherst, a former producer at ABC News, and a 1986 graduate of UMass Amherst.
  • Stephen White, professor of Marketing and International Business at UMass Dartmouth’s Charlton College of Business, who holds a Doctorate in Business Administration and a Master’s in Business Administration from Cleveland State University and Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from Bowling Green State University.
  • Sharon Cantor, an associate professor in UMass Medical School’s Department of Cancer Biology, who holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and a Doctorate in Biochemistry from Tufts University.
  • Sarah Freudson, a senior at UMass Amherst majoring in Legal Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.
  • Nolan O’Brien, a junior at UMass Boston majoring in Political Science and Government.  

About the UMass Foundation

The UMass Foundation is a private, non-profit corporation founded in 1950 to foster and promote the growth, progress and general welfare of the University of Massachusetts, recently ranked as the No. 1 public university in New England in the World University Rankings.  The Foundation provides a depository for charitable contributions to UMass, manages the University’s endowment, promotes private support of public higher education, and supports the fundraising efforts of the five UMass campuses – UMass Amherst, UMass Boston, UMass Dartmouth, UMass Lowell and UMass Medical School.



Media Contacts:

For UMass President’s Office

Ann Scales, 617-838-3963,


For UMass Foundation

Ray Howell, 617-571-3114,