Environmental Sustainability as a Strategic Policy Issue:
What Governing Boards Need to Know
Original Broadcast: February 11, 2009
Environmental sustainability is an issue that has risen in attention and prominence on our college and university campuses. Increasing attention is being placed on and within higher education to “practice what it preaches” to model economically and environmentally sustainable practices in green building design, operations, purchasing, investments, and integrating sustainable principles into the curriculum.
This program is designed to provide a fundamental understanding of sustainability issues within higher education and how boards can work together with their administrations and executive staffs to be informed leaders about sustainability. Participants will learn how trustees can engage effectively and appropriately on sustainability at a policy level, how sustainability can relate to institutional mission and strategic planning, can how it can become a regular part of a board’s long-term agenda.
Trustees, as fiduciaries of their institutions, need to ensure that they have sufficient knowledge and information to make informed decisions. As higher education enters into a period of constrained resources, boards will need to concern themselves with making the right policy choices and strategic investments as debates on these initiatives and activities occur. The program will, therefore, explore the fiduciary responsibilities of the governing board in relation to sustainability. What are the questions the board should be asking? What financial aspects of sustainability in terms of cost and benefits, especially in a time of fiscal uncertainty, need to be considered? What metrics and benchmarks on sustainable practices should the board monitor?
An expert panel who have affected change on campuses will tackle these topics and questions. They are Tony Cortese, president of Second Nature; Thomas Haas, President, Grand Valley State University; Leith Sharpe, a visiting scientist in the Harvard School of Public Health and formerly the sustainability coordinator at Harvard University; a brief interview with Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi of California, a trustee at the California State University and University of California Systems; and Kathleen McKinney, chair of the Board of Trustees at Furman University. The webcast will be moderated by Rich Novak of the Association of Governing Boards.
This webcast program will consist of PowerPoint presentation and discussion via the speakerphone on your telephone. It will be interactive with audience polling, and questions and answers via telephone and text.
Topic Discussion Areas:
Review of Principles of Education for Sustainability for Colleges and Universities
Engaging Trustees Effectively on Sustainability
- How boards can become engaged at a policy level
- Educating and informing the board: the responsibility of the chief executive and other senior staff
- How sustainability relates to institutional mission and the strategic planning process (and the board’s responsibility for both)
- Integrating sustainability into teaching, research, operations, facilities, and service—how far do we wish to integrate sustainable principles at the institution? (Successful institutions integrate sustainable principles throughout the college or university: curriculum, food service, buildings, energy use, etc.)
The Fiduciary Responsibilities of the Board
- What are the questions the board should be asking about sustainability?
- The financial aspects of sustainability: what are the cost and benefits, especially in a time of fiscal constraint? Is sustainability a strategic investment in a difficult financial time?
- What metrics and benchmarks on sustainable practices should the board monitor and expect to see results? Who bears the responsibility for campus sustainability initiatives reporting?
- Understanding life cycle costing, particularly in for sustainable building design
The Board as Supporter, Leader, and Loving Critic
- Which will it be regarding sustainability? Can it be all three?
- Sustainability’s place on the board’s agenda
- The roles of board leadership and board committees in conjunction with the president and university administration
- How can all trustees, including student members of the board, participate effectively?
Who should Watch this Webcast:
This webcast is designed for college and university board members and board professional staff; presidents and chancellors, and their executive staff.
Rich Novak, Senior Vice President, Ingram Center for Public Trusteeship & Governance, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB)
Richard Novak is a senior vice president at the Association of Governing Boards with primary responsibility to direct the Richard T. Ingram Center for Public Higher Education Trusteeship and Governance, at the Washington, DC–based Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB). The Center’s mission is to strengthen the relationship between public academic institutions and state governments by enhancing the performance and capacity of public governing boards. While at AGB, Novak has directed special initiatives on board and presidential leadership; led a multi-state study on the effectiveness of public college and university governing boards; worked to incorporate environmental sustainability into governing board agendas; and directed or co-directed studies in several states, including Maryland, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Jersey. Prior to joining AGB, he was 13 years on the staff of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
Thomas Haas, President, Grand Valley State University
Thomas Haas is Grand Valley State University’s fourth president. In addition to his appointment as president of Grand Valley, Haas has also been appointed professor of chemistry. Grand Valley has more than 23,000 students and is the comprehensive regional university for the state's second largest metropolitan area, with 70 undergraduate and 26 graduate degree programs spread over five campuses. Haas is an internationally recognized expert in hazardous material transportation and has published more than 70 articles in a variety of journals. During the past 20 years, Haas has been a tenured faculty member, department chair, dean, vice president and president. Just prior to his appointment at Grand Valley in 2006, he was president of the State University of New York campus at Cobleskill. Haas is an honors graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and served two years on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Acacia in Port Huron. He then earned a Master of Science in chemistry and another in environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan. Haas also holds a Master of Science in human resource management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Connecticut.
Anthony D. Cortese, President, Second Nature
Anthony Cortese is president of Second Nature, a nonprofit organization with a mission to catalyze a worldwide effort to make healthy, just, and sustainable action a foundation of all learning and practice in higher education. He is also co-director of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, co-founder of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and the Higher Education Association Sustainability Consortium. Formerly, he was commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. As the first dean of environmental programs at Tufts University, in 1989 he spearheaded the award-winning Tufts Environmental Literacy Institute, which helped integrate environmental and sustainability perspectives in over 175 courses. He led the development of the internationally acclaimed Talloires Declaration of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future in 1990. Cortese is a founding and current member of the board of directors of The Natural Step US, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Cortese has B.S. and M.S. Degrees from Tufts University in civil and environmental engineering and a Doctor of Science in Environmental Health from the Harvard School of Public Health.
Kathleen Crum McKinney, Chair, Board of Trustees, Furman University
Kathleen Crum McKinney is the chair of the Board of Trustees for Furman University. She is an attorney with Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A. in Greenville, South Carolina. Her practice concentrates on tax-exempt higher education and healthcare revenue bonds. McKinney serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Bond Lawyers and is president-elect of the Association. She serves on the Board of Directors of the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, Inc. and the South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Organizations. McKinney received her B.A. summa cum laude from the University of South Carolina and her J.D. cum laude from University of South Carolina School of Law.
Leith Sharp has 15 years of experience in greening universities, beginning her career as the founder of the University of New South Wales Environmental Management Program in 1995. In 1999, Sharp became the founding director of Harvard’s Green Campus Initiative. Over nine years, she worked to build the largest green campus organization in the world funding this effort largely on the savings it produced, employing over 23 full time professional staff and 30 part time students, bringing Harvard to the forefront as a global leader in campus sustainability. Specific achievements include over 50+ LEED building projects (mostly Gold or better), a $12 million revolving loan fund achieving an ROI of 30%+, wide scale engagement in occupant behavioral change, onsite renewable energy, a significant GHG reduction commitment, alternative fuels for vehicles, green cleaning, environmental purchasing and more. Sharp instructs two courses offered through the Harvard Extension School, Organizational Change Management for Sustainability and Sustainable Buildings: Design, Construction and Operations. Sharp has a bachelor of engineering (environmental) from UNSW, Australia and a Master of Education from Harvard University.
To learn more about the webcast sponsors, please visit:
Association of Governing Boards (AGB)
Society for College and University Planning
For further information, contact Kathy Benton at SCUP (email@example.com or 734.998.6966)