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Harvard Management Company (HMC) has announced that Jameela Pedicini will become its first vice president for sustainable investing, a new position dedicated to researching environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues related to Harvard’s $30.7-billion endowment. “We will be looking to Jameela as our subject-matter expert on current industry practices, possible partnerships related to ESG investing, and on issues of interest emerging on Harvard’s campus,” said Kathryn Murtagh, managing director and chief compliance officer at HMC, in a press release.

The appointment was made as the University is taking a number of steps in the context of a growing college-based divestment movement that began last year at schools such as Middlebury, the University of Vermont, Tufts, and Vassar. In December 2012, amid rising calls from student groups to divest University holdings in fossil-fuel producers’ stocks, the administration announced a plan to create a “social-choice fund” that would “take special account of social responsibility considerations”—overseen by the Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility (CCSR)—and dedicate investment returns to supporting financial aid for students. (In May, the committee named Parnassus Equity Income Fund as the investment vehicle through which it will accommodate donors who wish to direct their gifts to a socially conscious investment vehicle, rather than to the general funds overseen by HMC. Each year, 20 percent of the fund’s beginning market value will be made available for financial aid across the University.)

Pedicini, who most recently served as investment officer for global governance with the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, will work with HMC investment professionals to analyze how ESG issues are currently integrated into the investment process and suggest possible enhancements. “As long-term investors, we are acutely focused on factors that may impact the long-term sustainability of Harvard’s endowment portfolio,” said HMC CEO Jane Mendillo—who will work closely with Pedicini. “Jameela will help strengthen our understanding of these risks and opportunities and will sharpen our due-diligence process to ultimately allow us to enhance the long-term returns we deliver for the University.”