Mich. U Eyes Tobacco Stock Selloff
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - A committee of faculty and students is urging the University of Michigan to sell its holdings in tobacco companies, accusing the industry of ``brazen dishonesty.''
A report released Monday by the Ad-Hoc Committee on Tobacco Investment, set up by the school's chief financial officer, also cited health risks associated with tobacco. The school's tobacco stock amounts to about $30 million, 1 percent of its $3 billion investment portfolio.
The committee conducted public forums and read more than 200 e-mail messages - and found overwhelming support for the divestiture, the report said.
``The brazen dishonesty of the tobacco industry for so many years about a matter of such enormous public health significance is, in the view of this committee, unquestionably antithetical to the core missions of the university,'' the report concluded.
The stock sale has to be approved by the university Board of Regents, which will take it up at its May 18-19 meeting. In 1978, Michigan sold stock in companies doing business in South Africa because of apartheid.
``This step is only taken in extraordinary circumstances,'' said Robert Kasdin, the university chief financial officer who formed the eight-member committee of faculty, staff, students and executives in September.
On Jan. 21, the University of Washington became the first state university system to divest its tobacco holdings, valued at $5.6 million, according to the Tobacco Information Service at the Investor Responsibility Research Center in Washington.
Fourteen other colleges and universities have set policies to restrict or divest tobacco stocks, including Harvard University, the center said in a report released Feb. 1. However, Yale University trustees in 1998 voted not to divest its tobacco stock holdings. A small portion of Yale's $7.2 billion endowment is invested in tobacco stocks - about $9 million.