Tamara Wallace

Tamara Wallace

2022–2023 SCUP Fellow and Sustainability Programs Manager in the Office of the Chancellor

California State University

SCUP Coaches: Michael McCormick, Partnerships Lead, Founder & President, Farallon Strategies, LLC; Diane Stephans, Associate Vice President for Academic Resources and Planning, California State University-Northridge

Read their research proposal

Tamara Wallace is the Sustainability Programs Manager with the California State University (CSU), Office of the Chancellor. During her 10-year career in sustainability, she has passionately championed the strategic vision of sustainability in higher education with its unique opportunities for driving organizational change through innovative solutions to tackle today’s challenges of a changing climate. Tamara is the project lead for the development of CSU’s Climate Resilient Infrastructure Guidelines and Framework, and represents CSU with the Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation (ARCCA), and a sitting member of the Executive Committee for the Environmental and Climate Change Literacy Projects (ECCLPS) CSU-UC partnership. Tamara is an elected member and current Chair of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Steering Committee, and successfully advocated for systemwide participation in comprehensive university sustainability benchmarking using the STARS reporting platform. Additionally, she is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor for the CSU Journal of Sustainability and Climate Change. Tamara is a double-alumna from CSU Fullerton, a certified change management professional, and a LEED Green Associate.

SCUP Fellows Research Project

Project Title: Implementation of the CSU Resilient Infrastructure Guidelines Through Campus-Community Engagement

Project Description:

I work for the California State University (CSU) Office of the Chancellor, which is the headquarters office of largest system of four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 56,000 faculty and staff and 477,000 students. Each year, the CSU awards more than 132,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 4 million strong.

In recent years, more than 50% of our campuses have experienced direct impacts of catastrophic climate events (e.g. Sonoma State with the Tubbs and Carr Fires; Chico State with the Camp Fire; multiple campuses experiencing sudden power shutoffs due to Power Safety Shutoffs from utilities during high risk weather events), with adverse impacts to critical infrastructure exposing vulnerabilities to campus systems.

This SCUP Fellow project will examine higher education’s role with surrounding communities, using CSU as a case study, will use the CSU climate informed design-day guidelines as a basis to examine strategies for implementation of campus-community climate resiliency engagement. These Guidelines, created in partnership with the consultant firm Buro Happold’s Climate Resiliency team, were designed to inform campus master planning efforts. The university interface with the surrounding community must be collaborative and cooperative. This emerging issue of climate adaptation and resiliency planning will support the alignment of university-community partnerships, such as local and regional government, energy utilities, and regional transit systems.

The CSU prides itself on its diversity of campus geographies, demographics, circumstances, needs, and priorities. Therefore, CSU systemwide efforts in climate adaptation and resiliency present broad opportunities for examining and developing model practices for peer institutions’ consideration for benchmarking.

Based on the climate projections (international, national, statewide), a strong case can be made that all higher education will need to assess, prescribe, and implement levels of climate resiliency planning into campus master plan/ utility master plan/ academic master plans within this next decade. The CSU Chancellor’s Office Capital Planning, Design, and Construction Department has developed the climate informed design-day guidelines as a set of strategies for mitigation and adaptation measures to address vulnerabilities in campus physical infrastructure. Financial investments through capital improvement strategies are recommended to inform and align with campus master planning needs and projections.

Climate change presents a fundamental and existential threat to the higher education business model. Stakeholder buy-in and advocacy will require higher education campus planners to be well-informed for coordination, support, and communication.

Project Goal & Applicability

(1) Project Goal

Goal 1: Review literature and planning documents that consider resiliency implementation versus resiliency governance.
Goal 2: Identify case study campus(s) and develop a stakeholder engagement plan for addressing and incorporating campus-community implementation priorities.
Goal 3: Raise awareness with the broader higher education planning community to collect feedback and share model practices.

(2) Applicability

Outcome 1: Application of the Literature Review as a basis for campus-community engagement and coordination efforts.
Outcome 2: Deliver a model example of stakeholder engagement plan.
Outcome 3: Produce a handbook of action steps to guide university-community engagement.

Methodology & Rationale

Moving from Theory into Practice: this project will examine existing work of CSU climate resilience, and overlay with federal, state, and regional planning guidance to explore implementation strategies for campus-community partnerships for planning alignment through stakeholder engagement.

Resources: Review of research in climate resiliency governance and implementation; CSU Climate Resilient Infrastructure Final Report examining climate change projections overlayed with identified physical infrastructure considerations to inform implementation priorities; and Prosci’s Institutional Change Management principles and tools for stakeholder engagement.

Datasets: Campus categorization of vulnerabilities from projected climate impacts on critical infrastructure; local general plans, safety element, and city infrastructure; regional climate resiliency planning documents; state policy; regional transit planning; energy utility coordination of priorities and opportunities.

Primary tool: Prosci institutional change management principles, approaches, and tools will be applied for communicating and understanding projected costs and risks associated with climate change. This project will require considerable coordination of technical aspects and organizational change management to motivate individuals as contributors to the organization in adopting and applying climate hazard mitigation and adaptation strategies for campus long-term investments. This transformational engagement will support cross-divisional needs and identify additional drivers for implementation.

Project Deliverables

As a result of the project outcomes, I will draw a focus on protecting the most vulnerable, particularly the disadvantaged communities of which CSU campuses largely serve. Climate change hazards disproportionately impact the vulnerable populations with the most direct damage and longest-lasting impacts, preventing the ability for quick recovery. While over half of CSU campuses serve a majority of their student body coming from disadvantaged communities, one of our core pillars of CSU mission aims to promote social upward mobility of our students through student success initiatives and accessible, high-quality higher education.

Additionally, I want to affect change in higher education by raising awareness of climate change adaptation needs and priorities for university climate resiliency planning efforts, in coordination and cooperation with regional partners. Higher education holds the unique opportunity of promoting innovative solutions in partnership with our local community through research and planning efforts. CSU remains a leader in this space, and is currently the only public higher education system tackling climate resiliency infrastructure planning.

My future goal is to use this project to collaborate, leverage, and align regional and state-level efforts to ensure universities and communities support each other.
For my professional development, I look forward to the direct coaching from the SCUP community of campus planning professionals and gaining exposure to external partners, audiences, and networks. Further, I want to grow my direct work experience in resiliency planning and community partnerships.

Implementation Plan and Preliminary Schedule

Phase 1: Attend SCUP Annual Conference; Information gathering for Goal 1 (review of literature); identify and confirm case study participant campuses and primary point(s) of contact.

Phase 2: Using the outcomes of Goal 1, develop stakeholder engagement plan for Climate Resiliency between campus-community key representatives as the basis for the implementation strategies (Goal 2/ Outcome 2).

Phase 3: Administer stakeholder meetings, solicit feedback on draft action plan (Goal 3).

Phase 4: Draft final report and action plan handbook (Goal 3/ Outcome 3) for campus-community implementation for Climate Resiliency.

Phase 5: Share findings and raise awareness within the SCUP community with replicable strategies in higher education for turnkey solutions to address resiliency planning in the face of a rapidly changing climate.

What do you hope to learn from SCUP?

To date, my professional development and networking has focused in the areas of California environmental policy and sustainability benchmarking in higher education. This opportunity with SCUP will support my pursuits to bridge the work of sustainability advocacy to campus strategic planning from the climate action and adaptation perspectives.

Exposure to the campus planning school of thought and developing a deeper understanding of the motivations behind campus master planning processes will provide excellent opportunities to foster and inform dialogue between the two spaces: university climate adaptation/ resiliency and university master planning.