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Large OHIO contingent expected at first USO Sustainability Conference

Apr 21, 2010
By Erin Sykes

Ohio University expects to have one of the largest representations among institutions participating in the inaugural University System of Ohio (USO) Sustainability Conference, which will be held April 27 in Columbus.  

As of Wednesday morning, 48 OHIO students, staff and faculty members were registered to attend the conference, which focuses on efficiency, green workforce development, and green research and development. Participants from Ohio University will join attendees from 33 other Ohio colleges and universities to increase the visibility and importance of sustainability in higher education.

Registration for the USO Sustainability Conference*  closes at 1 p.m. on April 22.

?In some ways sustainability is already the central part to USO schools' operations and education,? said Corey Hawkey, former sustainability coordinator for the Ohio Board of Regents, who is coordinating the USO Sustainability Conference. ?They just are not telling the story the right way or recognizing it as such. Institutions are coming around to these ideas more and more.?

President Roderick J. McDavis is one of four presidents featured on the conference?s Presidents Panel.  He will highlight ways Ohio University has encouraged collaboration between Ohio universities.

"It is important for Ohio University to make a public commitment in support of the work already underway on our campus," said McDavis. "And, we must challenge our university community to strive to do more. We have started a journey that has become a point of pride for our university community. We must continue on that journey, leading by example."

McDavis was a charter signatory of the American Colleges and Universities Presidents Climate Commitment and serves as a member of its leadership circle, which personally encourages other university presidents to sign the commitment.  

In 2007, Ohio University hosted the first ever Ohio Climate & Energy Conference?an event that highlighted institutional efforts to address climate and energy issues within the context of House Bill 251. More than 22 Ohio colleges and universities attended.

Ohio University has also been designated by Governor Ted Strickland and the University System of Ohio as a Center of Excellence in Advanced Energy for its contribution to the state in the area of Energy and the Environment. More than 35 OHIO faculty members currently collaborate with students and staff on interdisciplinary applied research in this area.

?I?m really excited that the president and faculty, staff and students on campus are so supportive of sustainability. I hope that this energy and support that people are giving us will inspire others,? said Ohio University's Assistant University Planner Shawna Bolin.
Bolin is currently involved in three renovation projects at Ohio University that are on track to meet LEED Silver standard upon completion. She is also a member of the Buildings Working Group of the President?s Advisory Council for Sustainability Planning, which is developing a recommendation for a comprehensive sustainability plan and climate action plan for the university.

?If there is anything we can grab from the conference to infuse into our goals and objectives, I?m looking to do that,? said Bolin.  

Outside of the conference venue, Ohio University Professor of Art Duane McDiarmid?s "Trickster," an interactive, solar-powered sculpture, will be on display. The piece asks observers to both marvel at our technological abilities and question whether we are using that technology appropriately.

Ohio University's Director of Environmental Studies Michele Morrone has been selected to present the Kanawha Project, which aims to increase undergraduates? environmental literacy by helping faculty from all disciplines incorporate sustainability into their course syllabi.

To date, 39 Ohio University faculty members have completed the training and incorporated environmental issues into their courses. These faculty will be joined by nineteen more who are participating in the project this year. This project is the only one of its kind in the state of Ohio.

In another conference presentation, Ohio University Sustainability Coordinator Sonia Marcus will highlight OHIO?s in-vessel composting system, the largest at any college or university in the nation, as well as OHIO?s efforts to reduce waste in the dining halls.  

Many OHIO students will also attend the conference, with representation from the OHIO Ecohouse, the EcoReps and OU Beyond Coal, among other student groups.
?We are going to rep OU Beyond Coal, and hype our alma mater,? said junior applied ecology major Badger Johnson, who plans to participate in the conference's student expo on behalf of OU Beyond Coal, an organization encouraging a transition away from coal at OHIO's Lausche Heating Plant.  

With nearly 50 other OHIO community members registered to attend the conference, Johnson will not be alone in hyping OHIO?s sustainability efforts.

?It?s great to see that Ohio University will be represented by so many students, faculty and staff. That?s the strength of our sustainability efforts -- the broad base of engagement of all of our community members. For us it?s not just an energy thing, or a research thing, or a student activism thing. It?s all those and more,? said Marcus.


*Following this link takes you outside of Ohio University's Web site.


Published: Apr 21, 2010 4:50 PM

Trickster set up on Antelope Island

Ohio University Professor of Art Duane McDiarmid's "Trickster" will be on display outside the USO Sustainability Conference site. Read more about the interactive, solar-powered sculpture.

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