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University of Colorado divesting from Russian investments as Polis presses higher ed institutions

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Posted at 2:29 PM, Mar 02, 2022

DENVER – The University of Colorado said Wednesday it is taking steps to divest its investments Russian companies as the governor pressed Colorado’s public higher education systems to investigate their holdings that involve any Russia ties.

In a letter to the nine public higher education university systems and the state’s community college system, Polis asked they divestment any endowments of Russian-owned assets, terminate contracts with the Russian government, and get rid of any grants in which Russia or Russian institutions “are the primary beneficiary.”

“We will stand on the side of freedom and proudly support a democratic and independent Ukraine. War, violence, and chaos threaten the very foundations of the global economy and our national security. Colorado will not turn its head,” Gov. Jared Polis added in the letter. “…We hope that these actions are short-lived and that the great nation of Russia soon returns to being proud and peaceful, and your actions can hasten that day.”

The letter this week comes after Polis issued an executive order last week directing state agencies to review their contracts to see if any are tied to Russian state-owned companies and to terminate those contracts if they exist.

The state pension fund, Colorado PERA, said Friday it was divesting $7.2 million invested in the Russian-owned Sberbank. Another roughly $800,000 was invested in four other companies, PERA said.

The University of Colorado said in response to the governor’s directive that it had identified investments in publicly traded companies in the CU Foundation and the university’s treasury pool.

The university said the CU foundation “holds less than 0.1% of its $2.6 billion Long-Term Investment Pool” in publicly traded Russian companies and that the foundation’s fund managers were “in the process” of selling those securities.

Additionally, the university system has about $3.5 million in value invested in mutual funds with equity holds in Russia and says it has asked the mutual funds to “exit these holdings as early as allowable.”

“These are small but important steps we can take as a university to stand with the people of Ukraine at this hour,” said Jack Kroll, the chairman of the CU Board of Regents.

The university said none of its four campuses have researchers conducting any research funded by Russian entities and no money was flowing to Russia as part of any research.

“We are looking for ways to show our support for the people of Ukraine and believe that cutting our investments is the right thing to do,” said CU President Todd Saliman.

Other public universities that received the letter from Polis had yet to issue statements about possible holdings in Russian assets as of publication.