TORIIS at a glance
TORIIS.earth is an organization that makes transparent the University of Illinois Systems corporate bond portfolio and visualizes this data through an environmental lens. Throughout TORIIS, you can explore in depth the University of Illinois Systems’ corporate bond portfolio, understand the scope and impact of its investments in the fossil fuel industry, and take action by signing our open letter requesting fossil fuel divestment from the University of Illinois.
As of Fiscal Year 2022, the University of Illinois System, comprising campuses in Chicago, Urbana-Champaign, and Springfield, have $4.15 billion assets under management, with corporate bond ownership making up around $978 million of those assets. Of these corporate bonds, the University of Illinois System has over $120 million invested that profit from the extraction, transportation, or combustion of coal, petroleum, or natural gas.
In conjunction with the University of Illinois System, the University of Illinois Foundation, the official fundraising and private gift-receiving agency for the University of Illinois, has a reported 5% of their portfolio, around $110 million, invested in fossil fuel companies. The University of Illinois Foundation’s private status prohibits TORIIS from making transparent its portfolio and auditing these claims.
The University of Illinois must begin the immediate removal of all investments currently held in fossil fuel corporations and the complete cessation of further investment into these industries in order to uphold its stated values and become the institutional leader that we know it can be.
Assets Per Sector
We request Chancellor Jones, University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen and University of Illinois Foundation CFO Jim Moore publish explicit language detailing fossil fuel divestment by the University of Illinois.
We request that the University of Illinois Foundation release a comprehensive and publicly-accessible financial plan regarding fossil fuel divestment.
We request the University of Illinois System incorporate fossil fuel divestment into their Investment Policy Statement.
We request that both UIF and UIS work with a third-party auditory to carbon grade its portfolio.
We request that the University of Illinois Foundation and the University of Illinois System make transparent their progress in fossil fuel divestment.
Institutional Divestment Links
Responding to Pushback
When faced with calls for fossil fuel divestment in the past, the University of Illinois has responded with a litany of excuses. We would like to take time now to respond to those main talking points.
University of Illinois graduates will be less desirable candidates in the energy sector if the university divests from fossil fuels.
The University of Illinois has already announced a divestment plan from fossil fuels, which could very well warrant retribution from the sector, yet none has arrived. Furthermore, the University of Illinois’ programs in business, science, math, and engineering are some of the strongest in the world. Universities with other top programs, such as UCLA, UC Berkeley, and Georgetown, have put into place divestment policies, but they are still top ranked schools in the nation, with divestment leaving no noticeable impact on their national prestige.
The University of Illinois’ divestments from fossil fuels will not have a negative impact on the fossil fuel industry.
This is untrue. The corporate bonds the University of Illinois System holds in fossil fuel companies provide an avenue for fossil fuel companies to raise corporate debt to finance their operations. Ending the purchasing of bonds in this sector will decrease the demand for corporate debt in this sector, which in turn will impact the amount of debt eligible to be raised. In tandem, when the University of Illinois Foundation sells its risk assets in this sector, the market-clearing price will decrease, driving down the market capitalization of the company. Technical economics aside, a core tenant of divesting from an industry is to remove the social license of that industry. By pulling investments out of the fossil fuel industry, the University of Illinois is taking a stance against the heavy polluters that overly contribute to climate change.
Without investments in fossil fuels, the University of Illinois will no longer have the opportunity to be advocating shareholders.
The fossil fuel industry has known about the climate crisis for decades and has refused to take action, even with shareholder advocacy. The University of Illinois can continue to attempt to use shareholder power to have minuscule impacts on the fossil fuel companies' operations, or they can choose to no longer be complicit in the climate crisis by removing themselves from this destructive industry.
Divesting from the fossil fuel industry will allow actors with the intent to expand the fossil fuel industry to gain more shares.
This argument misses the point of fossil fuel divestment: It is up to the University of Illinois to actively make decisions to fight climate change, and refusing to divest from fossil fuels is a non-active approach.
TORIIS.earth is a website that aims to promote environmental awareness and inspire action for fossil fuel divestment via interactive data visualizations of the University of Illinois Systems public investment portfolio.
TORIIS is run by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign students and alumni and was created by Students for Environmental Concerns and Hack4Impact UIUC as a result of a grant from the Illinois Green Fund awarded by the University of Illinois Student Sustainability Committee. You can reach us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, check out our codebase, and connect with us on our socials!
Beyond Coal started as a branch of the Sierra Club
Through a Student Government referendum 86% of the student body voted to divest from COAL
Faculty Senate passed a resolution to divest from coal AND to create a socially responsible investment committee called the Joint Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Licensing and Investment
Student Senate passed Fossil Free UIUC urging Board of Trustees to divest from ALL fossil fuels. 75% of the student body voted to divest from ALL fossil fuels by 2020.
Comprehensive divestment letter was sent to UIS and UIF
Beyond Coal merged with Students for Environmental Concerns
Student Senate passed a resolution to divest from coal
Chancellor Jones was formally advised to divest from coal, and the Joint Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Licensing and Investment changed its name to the Joint Advisory Committee on Investment, Licensing and Naming Rights
The Illinois Sustainable Investing Act is passed. Illinois Climate Action Plan published, fiscal divestment from fossil fuels by 2020 included as item 9.1.