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April 24, 2015

Harvard Taps Oil-Industry Veteran for Top Finance Post

Harvard University, a focus of climate activists' efforts to promote institutional divestment from fossil-fuel industries, has appointed a former oil executive to serve as its new chief financial officer, Bloomberg reports. Thomas Hollister, who served for seven years as operations and finance head for oil distributor Global Partners after a long career in banking, will take up the Harvard post next month.

Harvard students recently carried out a week of protests calling for the university to pull endowment funds from carbon-producing fuels, and a student group sued the institution in a bid to force divestment. Harvard has rebuffed divestment calls, saying it is tackling climate issues through research, education, and campus sustainability efforts.

Chloe Maxmin, a co-founder of student activist group Divest Harvard, said that with Mr. Hollister's hiring the university "continues to uphold the status quo that enables climate change." University Treasurer Paul Finnegan said the incoming CFO, a former chairman of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce who began his career in the city, brings "experience and deep roots in the community [that] will be a significant asset to Harvard."