Maintaining a university’s financial security is one of the central obligations of the institution’s CEO. The Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, president of Creighton University, acknowledged that duty with his recent decision not to end the university’s investments in the fossil fuel industry.
He reached his decision after a formal referendum in which disinvestment was supported by about 86% of 2,438 Creighton students who voted. By 2025, the referendum said, the university should divest the 2% of its endowment that is in the top 200 carbon-emitting companies in that industry.
Hendrickson deserves credit for how he addressed the matter. He showed appropriate leadership by underscoring the need for careful management of the university’s finances. At the same time, he acknowledged the importance of environmental sustainability and announced a set of initiatives for worthwhile explorations of the issue.
A Jan. 28 campus forum will focus on environmental concerns and responsible investing. A campus work group will examine those issues and additional ones, including carbon neutrality and the use of plastics. A new institute, the Common Home Project, will develop innovative programs for Creighton to “shape the future of our planet.” Hendrickson has also asked the Creighton Board of Trustees’ investment subcommittee to evaluate and consider investing in companies developing alternative sources of energy and technologies that reduce carbon emissions.
These initiatives can involve the breadth of the Creighton community and helpfully illuminate issues including environmental concerns and university investment policies. This strategy can promote substantive deliberation and information-gathering for future action by Creighton on a range of fronts.
Hendrickson has served Creighton well with this responsible, multi-pronged approach.