Year of Sustainability enforcer selected to serve elsewhere

October 19, 2009 by Kristina Medley NMSU Round Up

Sustainability goals still on track

The New Mexico State University Sustainability Council will continue to work to accomplish the 12 goals for the 2009 Year of Sustainability set by former Interim President Waded Cruzado.

The Goals

The council met Thursday morning to discuss “green” projects on campus and improving the campus grade on the College Sustainability Report Card, which resulted in a “C-” for NMSU. Steve Loring, chair of the sustainability council, said the council is serious about the goals, and is on task to complete them by the end of the year.

“[Our goal was to] check off all 12 by the end of the calendar year,” Loring said. “Just because the calendar year stops doesn’t mean the sustainability council stops.”

Presidential Duties

Loring said Cruzado did a good job setting the sustainability goals and set the tone for the next NMSU president. When a new president is elected, he or she will need to show support for the theme of sustainability at NMSU and the goals associated with it, Loring said.

“[A new president should] make a visible, public commitment by saying ‘I think this is important,” Loring said. “Even after the calendar year, [the new president would] need to show that [the theme of sustainability] is not just a flash in the pan. One person in that position can make a difference.”

Improving the Grade

Loring said NMSU received a “D” on the green report card last year, and although the grade this year was an improvement, NMSU still has work to do. Loring said the grade was a surprise, because the sustainability council, as well as the administration and other members of the campus community, are making efforts to improve NMSU economically.

“We have to know for ourselves that we’re taking the right steps,” Loring said. “[We should] take something that was a discouragement and look at it as an opportunity.”

Loring also said he was surprised that some of the category grades on the green report card were lower than a “C.”

“I knew endowment was going to be an issue, but it always is,” Loring said. “We put our best effort into it.”

Loring said the council is looking into using another ranking system to grade the sustainability efforts of NMSU using more clear-cut guidelines.

The “Kermit Project”

Mark Uchanski, assistant professor of plant and environmental sciences at NMSU, spoke at the council meeting and said members of the department are working on the hoop house project, which constructs low-cost, heated green houses for small farms. Uchanski said one goal for the project is to verify whether or not farmers can produce high-quality vegetable crops in the middle of winter using the hoop houses.

Uchanski described the project as the “Kermit Project,” because the structures are green on the outside, complying with the theme of “going green” and the Year of Sustainability.

Students and Sustainability

Loring said a list of courses related to sustainability have been added to the course catalog. Loring said students who are interested in sustainability issues in subjects ranging from agriculture to business now have the option to learn more about them.

Loring said a survey was sent out to the leaders of the various colleges at NMSU to find out which types of courses would be valuable to offer as part of the inventory for the sustainability courses. Loring said the course list is now complete enough to be viewed by the campus community, but will likely continue to change and expand.

The course list can be accessed at www.sustainability.nmsu.edu under the Learning and Curriculum tab.

Kristina Medley is the news editor and can be reached at trunews@nmsu.edu.


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