This case analyzes the University of Michigan (U-M) Endowment Fund’s capability and potential responsibility to divest from fossil fuels. Similar educational institutions, such as the University of California system, had cut fossil fuels from their portfolios, posing the question of whether U-M President Mark Schlissel would be able to do the same amid the university’s stakeholder pressures.
The university endowment managed $12.4 billion through 235 investment managers operating independently. A central question in the case is whether agents of a public university can shift to make more socially responsible investments while still delivering the desired revenue. President Schlissel had committed to carbon neutrality, but the university was still far from achieving the goal.