Chancellor Malatras to Convene Working Group to Develop Plan to Expand SUNY’s Retirement Plan Investment Options to Include More Companies Committed to Clean Energy, Divestment from Fossil Fuels, Environmental Sustainability, & Social Responsibility

June 29, 2021

Albany, NY – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras today announced the formation of a working group that will review the retirement investment options currently available through the Teachers Insurance and Annuities Association of America (TIAA) and other SUNY investment providers, which currently manage more than 100,000 SUNY retirement accounts and approximately $23 billion in assets. Made up of a diverse array of stakeholders from the SUNY community and external experts—the group will explore additional investment opportunities not currently available to employees. Adam Zurofsky, Founding Executive Director of Rewiring America and a leading expert on climate change and renewable energy financing, will serve as advisor to the Chancellor’s Working Group. Their work will culminate with a series of recommendations geared toward both shifting overall investment strategy and broadening investment options for employees interested in transitioning from old technology into emerging companies that prioritize environmental stewardship, the pursuit of clean energy and renewable energy sources, divestment in fossil fuels, and corporate social responsibility.

Chancellor Malatras is also launching a system-wide campaign designed to educate employees about socially and environmentally responsible investment options currently available through the SUNY Retirement System. Through a series of informative and recurring email messages and videos, the campaign will assist employees enrolled in the SUNY Retirement System—administered by TIAA—with understanding and ultimately selecting available investment options that both build their retirement savings and closely align with their core values.

“As the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, we have a responsibility to combat climate change and ensure that investments are being made in renewable energy and environmental stewardship,” said Chancellor Malatras. “It’s incumbent upon us as a system to connect employees with as much information as possible so that they can make investment choices that best suit their core beliefs and values. Additionally, our new working group, made up of SUNY stakeholders from various academic and professional backgrounds, will explore ways to broaden available investment options with an emphasis on clean and renewable energy sources and environmental sustainability. Beyond the pivotal benefits to our planet, investing in clean energy ultimately divests us from the stranded costs of outdated technology, positioning our employees in an emerging sector that’s poised for growth.”

SUNY Board Trustee Edward Spiro said, “Aside from the critical importance of environmental stewardship, companies committed to green and renewable energies have tremendous financial upside and can be key additions to employees’ investment portfolios as they plan for the future. I look forward to seeing the work of the team of experts and their recommendations that will benefit the tens of thousands of SUNY employees.”

Adam Zurofsky, Founding Executive Director of Rewiring America and SUNY Working Group Advisor, said, “Climate change and the clean energy transition are among the defining issues of our time. Success will require us all to do our part, both with how we live our lives and invest our money. I applaud SUNY and Chancellor Malatras for their leadership in putting these issues front and center and look forward to working with them to identify strategies to benefit both those looking to save for retirement and those looking to save the planet.”

Adam Zurofsky previously served as Director of State Policy and Agency Management for the State of New York. In that capacity, Mr. Zurofsky led the development and implementation of all major policy initiatives for New York State and was responsible for strategic management of the State’s executive agencies and authorities and their more than 150,000 employees. Prior to taking that role, Mr. Zurofsky served as Deputy Secretary for Energy and Finance where he directly oversaw all policy and regulatory aspects of New York State's energy, climate, and finance portfolios. He was responsible for leading the implementation of the State's climate agenda, including establishing the U.S. Climate Alliance of 25 states and territories committed to upholding the Paris Climate Accords and the decarbonization of the over $200 billion New York Common Retirement Fund.

Prior to his time in government, he was a partner in the law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel, LLP, where he represented companies and boards of directors in a variety of litigation, regulatory, and governance matters. He currently teaches climate policy at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs school and has taught, published, and lectured on topics ranging from corporate purpose to the clean energy transition in various capacities over the course of his career. Mr. Zurofsky holds an A.B. with honors in political science from Stanford University and a J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide were more than $1.0 billion in fiscal year 2020, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit suny.edu.


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