Throughout the spring 2010 semester, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little met with a team of student leaders to discuss expanding sustainability initiatives at the University of Kansas. Those conversations, along with discussions with faculty and staff from the Urban Planning Graduate Program, Design and Construction Management and the Center for Sustainability, led to the determination that the University needs to develop a campus-wide sustainability program. A major step for the program is the creation of a comprehensive sustainability plan to inventory current activities, establish measurable and accomplishable goals, and provide guidance for initiatives that promote environmental, economic, and social responsibility in operations, education, research, and campus life.
Paralleling those discussions, the Sustainability Ambassador program engaged in a visioning exercise to articulate what a sustainable KU would look like. As part of this process, ambassadors representing nearly 40 different campus departments and student organizations discussed their ideas for what a sustainable campus is and what steps KU needed to take in order to get us there. Building on the concepts for a sustainable campus, the ambassadors developed the following vision statement:
The University of Kansas is committed to fostering a culture of sustainability. Our administrative leadership and campus-wide collaborative efforts empower students, faculty, and staff to make decisions that protect our natural ecosystems, create economic prosperity, and treat all people with equality and respect. Through campus and community partnerships, KU strives to integrate sustainability into education, research, campus operations and public service.
As part of her 2010 Earth Day Proclamation, the Chancellor recognized the efforts that have been made to address issues of sustainability through student initiatives, research, and operations, and announced that the University "will begin developing a comprehensive plan for enhancing sustainability at the university" that will "bring together students, faculty and staff to assess our current status, develop strategies for minimizing our environmental and social impacts and establish a system for measuring our progress as we strive to create a more sustainable campus."
The vision of the KU student leaders, along with the vision of the Sustainability Ambassadors, formed the foundation of the Campus Sustainability Plan. The Center for Sustainability then worked with students, faculty, and staff from across campus to build on the vision and create a Sustainability Plan that will help move KU towards a more engaged, adaptive and efficient campus community.
Earth Day Proclamation: KU Students and CFS staff witnessed Chancellor Gray-Little as she signed an Earth Day Proclamation. Photo: KU University Relations