A Commitment to Lead: A proposed, renewed vision to position Miami University as a sustainability leader among higher institutions

Submitted to President Crawford for consideration by the Miami University Sustainability Committee June 1, 2019.

Miami has been a leader in energy reduction on campus among universities nationwide for the past decade. To prepare for the next decade, Miami University President Greg Crawford charged the Miami University Sustainability Committee in January 2019 to prepare a new sustainability plan.

Executive Summary

The Charge

In February 2019 President Crawford charged Miami University’s Sustainability Committee with the task of preparing a new plan for sustainability by June 1, 2019 that would reinforce Miami’s commitment towards sustainability and leverage past successes yet set forth new aspirations. The President asked that the plan incorporate the following objectives:

Obj 1: Should Miami University become the most sustainable university in the country? Why?

Obj 2: Establish a new baseline and metrics.

Obj 3: Assess our current portfolio of programs and curriculum across all campuses.

Obj 4: Assess our current portfolio of research.

Obj 5: Enhance collaborations beyond departments and programs.

Obj 6: Enhance student efforts on sustainability through collaboration.

Obj 7: Develop a technology plan that is realistic and doable.

Obj 8: Connect our sustainability efforts across our campuses and community.

Obj 9: Connect with external partners.

Obj 10: Should Miami sign the President’s Climate Leadership Commitments.

The Outcome

The Sustainability Committee formed seven subcommittees tasked with summarizing current efforts and identifying new opportunities. From these efforts the Sustainability Committee developed a new sustainability vision that will leverage Miami’s past success, as well as the wealth of resources from Miami students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners. This vision includes the following:

  • Become a leader in higher education by working with other universities, especially those in Ohio, to recognize how sustainability is integrally tied to a liberal arts education.
  • Create new sustainability commitments and goals (SCAGs) focused on reducing carbon emissions, creating a campus culture that supports sustainability, and being wise stewards of our resources.
  • Maintain an inventory of courses, programs and research focused on sustainability, seek additional funding for sustainability-focused research, and communicate our successes.
  • Expand student opportunities by creating new programs such as a Green Student Advisory Council and an online training program to teach students about sustainability efforts on campus.
  • Continue to use the Lean process to manage resources wisely, with an increased emphasis on technological advances; and establish institutional policies for processes ranging from equipment purchases to remote meeting access.
  • Create an Environmental Justice speaker series and host community forums on social and environmental issues of inequity.
  • Collaborate with energy companies, the Oxford community, surrounding communities, business partners and universities to create innovate solutions for collectively reducing emissions.
  • Commit to achieving carbon neutrality in the near future.

Recommendations

To turn this vision into reality, the Sustainability Committee emphasizes the importance of full administrative support, the need for more staff to assist the Director of Sustainability, and the formation of a task force to develop a plan for carbon neutrality.

For a full copy of the 66-page report, contact Adam Sizemore, Director of Sustainability, at sizemod3@miamioh.edu.

Next charge

  • After review in August, and the first meeting of the Sustainability Committee this semester on Sept. 20, President Crawford presented a new charge: "to further research and explore an internal plan for Miami University to achieve carbon neutrality" and report by February 1, 2020.