The members of the University of Connecticut’s recently-formed President’s working group on sustainability and the environment were announced on Tuesday, Nov. 26. The group was announced earlier in the semester in the wake of climate protests on campus as a means of exploring a more sustainable future for the university.
The group has 15 members who will represent various groups and colleges across campus, including six undergraduate students, one graduate student and eight faculty members. There are also four ex-officio members, all of whom are staff from various departments around campus.
The chairperson for the group is Scott Jordan, Executive Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer at UConn. Jordan said that his intentions with the group were to increase transparency in the UConn community with regards to environmental initiatives.
“Well, I think the purpose of the group is that the university has choices to make going forward. We would like to make those choices in a way that’s inclusive of the university community,” Jordan said. “I think at this moment in time with the level of interest students and faculty all have in our path, it makes sense to convene a group to consider the choices.”
President Katsouleas announced his intention to create a working group for environmental concerns on Oct. 2. This announcement came on the heels of the Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20 and the subsequent weekly sit-ins in President Katsouleas’s office.
While UConn already had an environmental policy advisory council prior to this, the purpose of this group is to identify goals for the university that consider all perspectives on the issues.
“The working group’s charge will be to determine what future goals with respect to carbon emissions and related issues are realistic and feasible for us and to make recommendations as to how they can be achieved,” Katsouleas wrote. “It must balance our desire to achieve these policy goals with our need to operate the university and address other key priorities within our budget.”
Among the faculty members, there are three representatives from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, two from the School of Engineering, one from the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, one from UConn administration and one who represents both the Graduate School and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Brandon Hermoza-Ricci, third-semester civil engineering major, said that he joined the board because he wanted to be a leader in reducing UConn’s carbon footprint.
“By participating on the sustainability working group, I am eager to be a voice representative of the student community looking to make the University of Connecticut a leader in policy initiatives of continued progress towards being a carbon free campus while protecting our local environment,” Hermoza-Ricci said.
Michael Willig, UConn Board of Trustees distinguished professor of ecology & evolutionary biology and executive director of the Institute of the Environment, is a representative for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He said that being part of the group was important to him because UConn has the opportunity to lead the nation in environmental justice.
“By being part of a multidisciplinary group of faculty members and students, who work with staff members in the area of operations and planning, we can help to clarify and articulate institutional values and use them to guide strategic invest in alternative energy sources that meet the university’s needs and do so while reducing our carbon emissions in a substantive manner,” said Willig. “Hopefully, by acting now and enacting decisions based on shared values, we can become a model for others to follow.”
Grace McFadden is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.