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November 2007

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President takes lead in climate initiative

An initiative to promote environmental sustainability on college campuses has drawn support from St. Norbert president William Hynes, who is a charter signatory to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. An Oct. 9 ceremony along the banks of the Fox River marked the signing.

The American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment currently has 419 signatories at campuses across the nation.

Signing on to this initiative means Hynes acknowledges the urgency of concerns about the world's climate, and commits to:

•    completing an emissions inventory for the College;

•    setting a target date and interim milestones for the campus to become climate neutral;

•    taking immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by choosing from a list of short-term actions;

•    integrating sustainability into the curriculum and making it part of the educational experience; and

•    making the action plan, inventory and progress reports publicly available.

The commitment signatories recognize the special role they play in accelerating research and educational efforts. As leaders of institutions of higher education, the faculty and staff on their campuses are educating those who will develop the future solutions to our problems.

Impetus for good environmental stewardship on campus originally stemmed from the facilities department, where efforts to conserve College, as well as global, resources have been aligned since the 1970s. In recent years, environmental concerns have become front-of-mind for the Peace and Justice Center on campus, too. A renewed sensitivity to the environment and responsible use of the earth’s resources is a natural fit with the Catholic/Norbertine social teachings incorporated in the College’s mission statement.

A white oak planted outside Burke Hall during Heritage Days will serve as a standing symbol of the commitment. Stacy Szczepanski, ’09 an environmental science and environmental policy major, said, “Although there is passion for going carbon neutral and greening our campus, change will only happen if students, faculty and staff work together.” The commitment to this common goal by so many different units of the College is the best way to move toward positive change, she said.



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