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University of Hartford Sustainability

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President Harrison’s Earth Day Message 2012

Dear Colleagues:

On Sunday, April 22, the nation and the world celebrated Earth Day, and on, Tuesday, April 24, members of the President's Commission on Sustainability were in Suisman Lounge in the Gengras Student Union to call attention to the University's commitment to a sustainable future.

Two years ago we created the President's Commission on Sustainability to emphasize the University's commitment to sustainability and to create ideas and programs for making us more responsible stewards of the world around us. Since its founding the Commission has adopted a number of programs that have had as their goal creating a change in campus culture. My feeling then was that the Commission could serve as a leading example of the University's Values Initiative, Committed to Community, by leading our community to find new ways to make a difference in our world.

I am proud to say that the Commission, under the leadership of Professor Laura Pence, has done just what I had hoped it would, beginning programs like the Power Struggle, which creates a competition among the first year student complexes to see who can save the most energy, and the campus's recycling program, which now covers the entire side of campus south of the Hog River and is expanding into the residential living areas north of the river. Changing our understanding of the environment and our personal habits is hard work, and the Commission has led the way. It is now up to all of us to redouble our efforts to change our individual behavior.

In a like manner, a group of students, staff, and faculty have led the way toward creating smoke free areas on campus, first in the courtyard of the Harry Jack Gray Center and, beginning next fall, in Quad Two of the Village Apartments. Creating these smoke free areas sustains our environment by eliminating the waste and litter of cigarette butts and makes a commitment to human health, which is a central goal of sustainability. In like manner, student groups--from athletic teams to Greek life organizations, as well as a variety of classes in several schools and colleges, have pitched in to clean many parts of our campus, improving our environment and sustaining our lives. And student groups from both the University of Hartford Magnet School and University High School of Science and Engineering have pitched in to make this a greener campus and world.

Our facilities department has adopted new initiatives that will preserve our environment and make our campus a better place to live. First and foremost, I commend our grounds department for their remarkable efforts over the past few years to make our campus more attractive and cleaner. All of us who live and work here notice the difference they have made, creating and maintaining new and beautiful areas all over campus. Their tireless efforts have made this a better place for us all, and created a more sustainable and healthy environment. Thank you, grounds department staff members, for leading the way.

This summer the University will begin a series of initiatives to make our campus a far more responsible user of energy, replacing a number of infrastructure systems, from dishwashers to heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems, that will provide for efficient energy use and create more healthful indoor environments. Over the next year we will invest over two million dollars in this effort--most of us will not be able to see these improvements, but the results in energy savings will be remarkable.

This week we introduce the most visible of these changes, a new campus bus that is fueled by greener diesel fuel and by retiring one of our older, gas guzzling buses.

Far more remains to be done. I will challenge the Commission to study more ways we can improve our environment. To that end, I intend to create some incentive funding for changes recommended by community groups, and I will ask the Commission to create a structure for implementing this incentive program.

Universities have an important role, as educational institutions, in leading the way to change our environment. I'm proud of what we have done so far, and on this Earth Day I challenge us to do even more.

Walter Harrison

Committed to Community