BOSTON >> The foundation that oversees the University of Massachusetts system's $770 million endowment has announced that it will divest from direct investments in coal companies.

Charles Pagnam, executive vice president of the UMass Foundation, said Thursday the decision sends an important message about the urgency of climate change and the university community's commitment to addressing it."

Universities selling fossil fuel investments to fight climate change is a national trend, often prompted by student protests.

The foundation also said it will continue to evaluate ways to manage the endowment in a manner that promotes both environmental sustainability and socially responsible investing.

In addition to managing the endowment, the foundation supports fundraising efforts at undergraduate campuses in Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell and the medical school in Worcester.