Faculty Senate passage of sustainability memorial puts NMSU on path to improvement

April 12, 2011 by Mark Cramer, @NMSU

On Feb. 19, New Mexico State University’s Faculty Senate unanimously passed a memorial to recognize the new Office of Sustainability at NMSU and support the plans and goals of the Sustainability Council.

The memorial, proposition 08-10/11A, was sponsored by David Boje, a Bill Daniels Ethics Fellow in the College of Business, who authored the memorial; Rani Alexander, a professor in the Department of Anthropology; Jeffery Amato, associate professor in the Department of Geological Sciences; Mark Walker, assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy; Thomas Dormody, professor in agricultural and Extension education; and Liz Miller, assistant professor in library technical services. Margaret Loring, who sits on the Sustainability Council and is an assistant professor in the Department of Communications at Dona Ana Community College, did research for the memorial.

The memorial noted that the university had committed itself to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment and the Talloires Agreement and was obliged to comply with them. It also pointed out that, even though NMSU has created an Office of Sustainability and has been successful in RecycleMania competitions against other universities, the university’s 2010 grade on GreenReportCard.org’s College Sustainability Report Card was only a C+. GreenReportCard.org is an interactive website that provides in-depth sustainability profiles for hundreds of colleges in all 50 U.S. states and in Canada. According to the website the Report Card “is designed to identify colleges and universities that are leading by example in their commitment to sustainability. The aim is to provide accessible information for schools to learn from one another’s experiences, enabling them to establish more effective sustainability policies.”

The point of the memorial was to request that the administration use STARS (Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Reporting System) to accurately report the university’s sustainability accomplishments; continue to move towards using renewable sources for at least 15 percent of campus electricity consumption; and publicize the university’s commitment to sustainability.

“It is important that we get the word out that any and all volunteers are needed to help us complete the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s STARS report,” said Joni Newcomer, NMSU’s manager of environmental policy and sustainability.

“With that passage, the Office of Sustainability may now request Senate President Mark Anderson to have a senator be an official representative on the Sustainability Education and Research Committee and/or the Executive Committee of Sustainability Council,” Boje said.

The next step in improving sustainability efforts at NMSU, via the memorial, was to convene the first meeting of the Sustainability Education and Research Committee, which took place March 2.

“Our goals and actions need widespread grassroots faculty and student support, as well as staff participation, to make them a reality,” Boje said.

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