(Aug. 27, 2010)--UTSA President Ricardo Romo has established the UTSA Sustainability Council to enhance university efforts to support a "green" environment. The standing committee will develop a five-year plan for UTSA programs and collaboration with community organizations.
"The Sustainability Council was established in response to UTSA community interest in taking a more proactive role in this important area," said Romo. "I am enthusiastic about what I think will be an important contribution to making UTSA and our community greener."
A key council member is Les Shephard, an internationally renowned expert on energy policy, who recently joined UTSA from Sandia National Laboratories. Shephard is director of the UTSA Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute. Through the new institute, CPS Energy and UTSA announced in June a 10-year, $50 million agreement that will position San Antonio as a leader in green technology research and play a major role in UTSA and San Antonio sustainability efforts.
Additionally, Derek Trimm, president of the UTSA Student Government Association, will join three other students on the council. SGA worked last spring for passage of a $5-per-semester green fee to fund sustainability projects. Students voted for the fee in April and the UT System Board of Regents approved it this month; the fee will begin spring 2011. Students have approved similar fees at UT Austin, UT El Paso, Texas A&M University, Texas State University and University of North Texas.
The 20-member council including UTSA students, faculty and staff is charged with advising senior administrators on (1) strategies for enhancing sustainability, (2) recommendations on initiatives and allocation of resources, (3) monitoring campus sustainability programs and (4) providing assistance in forming alliances with community partners.
The council is co-chaired by John Murphy, dean of the College of Architecture, and Dennis Haynes, interim dean of the College of Public Policy.
"Our goal is to energize the university community and champion sustainability, which is an important part of UTSA's strategic plan," said Haynes. "We look forward to developing alliances with San Antonio and regional partners to create sustainable policies and projects."
Next steps for the council will be to support development of energy consortia with the Southwest Research Institute and CPS Energy, develop a UTSA Sustainability website to showcase UTSA activities and promote involvement, consider allocation of seed funding for programs and research, support green campus operations, expand academic offerings and help student organizations launch new initiatives.
UTSA Sustainability Council
UTSA Sustainability Council roots
The UTSA Sustainability Council grew out of a presidential task force formed in spring 2009 to recommend a framework for sustainability supporting UTSA's strategic plan. Focusing on energy and the environment, the task force designated five key areas: leadership, academics, research, community engagement and outreach, and campus operations. The group compared UTSA green programs to those of aspirant universities and concluded that UTSA could surpass the aspirant programs with appropriate strategies, resource investment and community partnerships.
Led by Sonia Martinez, special assistant to the president, task force members were:
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