Sherman Texas | April 21, 2018
Austin College President Steven P. O’Day has formally adopted a new Campus Sustainability Plan that recommits the College to environmental stewardship and resource conservation efforts begun by his predecessors. O’Day became president at Austin College in October 2017.
“Austin College takes environmental stewardship seriously,” President O’Day said. “We look forward to building on a 20-year track record of advances in stewardship and capturing more of the cost savings those improvements generate. This plan ensures that Austin College will continue to be a leader in the campus sustainability movement.”
In 2008, President Oscar Page signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (now the Second Nature Carbon Commitment), a challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2011, President Marjorie Hass reconfirmed that commitment and launched a more comprehensive effort, Austin College Thinking Green, which engaged stakeholders across campus in stewardship efforts. President O’Day’s adoption of a formal sustainability plan demonstrates continued commitment under his leadership; the effort remains dependent upon all members of the campus community contributing to environmental stewardship efforts.
Princeton Review regularly recognizes Austin College’s accomplishments with inclusion in its Guide to Green Colleges. “Since 2008 we have converted to wind-generated electricity and reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by more than 40 percent,” said Dr. Peter Schulze, director of the College’s Center for Environmental Studies. “Meanwhile, cumulative energy efficiency improvements across campus since 2004 are now saving us more than $400,000 per year in energy costs.” Additionally, the IDEA Center, the College’s science building completed in 2013, was awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council for its leadership in energy and environmental design.
The adoption of the new Campus Sustainability Plan coincided with the beginning of the College’s Green Week, which includes a number of sustainability-focused events and culminates with GreenServe, the College’s annual green service day, held in conjunction with Earth Day weekend each year. Predicted heavy rains on April 21 caused organizers to postpone the service day to April 28this year, hoping for a clear day for students to volunteer at sites like Pottsboro Community Garden, Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, Eisenhower State Park, and Binkley Park to assist with various environmental efforts.
GreenServe is just one of the College’s local environmental outreach programs. The College also provides land and support for the Sherman Community Garden and operates a free field trip program for area elementary schools at its Sneed Prairie Environmental Research Area, which hosted its 10,000th child in October 2016.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.