ICQ 2003/4
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Exciting Initiative Incorporates Sustainability Practices

"It is our goal to become one of the nationís leading proponents of sustainability, to practice what we preach, and to produce leaders in many fields who will find solutions for meeting the needs of their generation without shortchanging future generations," says President Peggy R. Williams. She is talking about the new sustainability initiative at Ithaca College, in which, among other changes, the School of Business will undergo major curricular and facilities revamping with the goal of producing leaders who care equally about profits, society, and the environment.

The practice known as sustainability, or sustainable development, has been adopted by governments and by a number of leading corporations, but is just now beginning to be taught at the nationís leading business schools. It engages not only ecologically sound practices but those that use finances wisely and treat people, including future generations and people throughout the world, equally and fairly. The Collegeís sustainability initiative includes building a $14 million home for the business school, leading a regional sustainability effort in upstate New York, assessing ways to incorporate sustainability into the curricula of all five schools, and adopting sustainability practices in day-to-day operations. The initiative officially kicked off in early April, when the College hosted a national summit on sustainable development that included many delegates from major corporations, government agencies, universities, and regional development organizations.

"Enlightened corporations realize that they must use resources wisely, care about the concerns of the public, and serve as good stewards of the environment if they hope to remain competitive," says President Williams. And institutions of higher education are no different. This is an exciting and ambitious commitment for Ithaca College, in keeping with the goals of its Institutional Plan to become a top-tier institution of higher education.

The College plans to construct a business school building that will be designed to exceed the highest level of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards of the U.S. Green Building Council. As a sustainably designed facility, it will have lower operating and maintenance costs; incorporate a sense of community and promote interactive learning; and advance environmental stewardship by producing much of its own energy while minimizing the use of water and other natural resources. The building will be used as a learning tool for students and visitors.

Ithaca College has long had programs in various parts of campus life that support the tenets of sustainability. A research grant from the National Science Foundation is facilitating the development and revision of courses in biology, anthropology, history, writing, and other disciplines that address the concept of sustainability. In addition, the School of Business curriculum already incorporates sustainability into such areas as business ethics, law, management systems, and global investment. The campus has garnered national attention for successfully introducing resource management programs such as office paper recycling and state-of-the-art composting of dining hall food wastes.

Building upon those experiences, the College will begin to assess its operations, procedures, and policies to foster the incorporation of sustainability thinking and practice into its day-to-day management. Ithaca College and the Park Foundation have provided critical seed funding to support a feasibility study for a regional sustainability initiative in which the College would partner with the City of Ithaca, Tompkins County, Cornell University, and other public- and private-sector organizations. The initiative would build on the success of similar efforts in Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco, among other communities.

For more information on Ithaca Collegeís sustainability initiative, visit Sustainability -- Exploring Positive Growth.

In our next issue we will go into greater detail on the initiative and on plans for the new School of Business building.

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A. Ozolins, Ithaca College Office of Publications, 30 April, 2004