Sustainability Initiative Takes Shape


Return to Issue of March 16, 2009

The Sustainability Task Force, a group charged by Kent State President Lester A. Lefton to organize and oversee the university's sustainability initiatives, is moving along steadily.


Photo by Bob Christy

Dr. Verna Fitzsimmons is a co-chair of the Sustainability Task Force.

The task force assembled a steering team, which has met twice to map a plan for gathering input and implementing sustainability efforts across Kent State's eight-campus system. The steering team is composed of leaders from the faculty, staff, student body and the city of Kent. 

The steering team is currently dividing its membership and interested volunteers into subcommittees. The subcommittees will report to the steering team and the Sustainability Task Force co-chairs, Dr. Verna Fitzsimmons, the interim dean of Kent State's College of Technology, and Tom Euclide, executive director of facilities planning and operations.

"The subcommittees will research current trends and new ideas on how to maximize the university and community’s efforts towards becoming a leader in sustainability," Euclide says. "From their research, suggestions and recommendations will be presented to the steering team, and the steering team will respond by either asking for more research in a certain area, implementing the recommendations directly or presenting to the president and his cabinet for approval or funding."

The steering team held forums in late February. The forums were the first opportunity to gather volunteers, begin the process of assembling the subcommittees and discuss and define the concept of sustainability.  Participants gathered in groups to explore topics ranging from procurement, transportation and food service to building design, construction and maintenance. Also discussed were recycling and reduction of waste.

Involvement of the entire university community was also explored. Task force members and volunteers discussed energy use and recycling in residence halls and ways to engage commuter students. The individual groups then presented to the whole forum what they felt the university needed to research or do to fulfill the principles of sustainability in each topic area. 

To help manage universitywide sustainability efforts, Provost Robert Frank and Vice President for Business and Finance Gregg Floyd have funded a new university position, University Sustainability Manager. The position has been posted, and an interview and selection team is currently being assembled.

The steering team has also suggested taking an educational approach to reach out to students by suggesting to First Year Experience coordinators to incorporate books on sustainability into the summer reading assignment.

The next meeting has yet to be scheduled, but all subcommittee meetings are open to new, interested volunteers.

For questions about the Sustainability Task Force and its initiatives, or to participate in the effort, contact Fitzsimmons at vfitzsim@kent.edu or Euclide at teuclide@kent.edu.

For more information about sustainability initiatives at Kent State, see Kent State Magazine.

By Samantha Donegan

Return to Issue of March 16, 2009


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