MC celebrates Campus Sustainability Day

MC celebrates Campus Sustainability Day

October 28, 2011
Contact: Chloe Kennedy, News and New Media Writer

To focus on the success of the sustainability movement in higher education, members of the Maryville College community celebrated Campus Sustainability Day on Oct. 26.

MC students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to sample local, organic vegetarian foods from the Maryville Farmer’s Market, the Maryville College Community Gardens, the Tomato Head and Earth Fare. Attendees participated in Second Nature, Inc.'s interactive webcast about “Sustainability in Admissions, Retention and Educational Value” and watched clips of environmental documentaries.

There were also informal discussions about organic farming and community-supported agriculture, as well as the types of sustainability events attendees would like to see occur on the MC campus.

Started in 2003, Campus Sustainability Day is a project of the Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium (HEASC), a consortium of about a dozen higher education associations. According to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) website, Campus Sustainability Day “has been a time to focus the national eye, and our campus communities, on the success of the sustainability movement in higher education.” MC’s celebration of Campus Sustainability Day is one of more than 70 CSD events at higher education institutions listed on the AASHE website.

“Campus Sustainability Day is an important event to participate in because it connects Maryville College to discourse and discussions other institutions are having all over the United States simultaneously, thus being a part of a larger national university movement,” said Adrienne Schwarte, associate professor of art/graphic design at MC. Schwarte co-hosted the event with Dr. Mark O’Gorman, associate professor of political science and coordinator of the environmental studies program at MC.

“It’s an opportunity to celebrate MC’s commitment to sustainability initiatives through curricular and co-curricular programming and for us to envision how we see sustainability interwoven on our campus in the future. And, it’s also an opportunity to share and experience how interdisciplinary and community-engaged sustainability really is.”

Maryville College’s Environmental Sustainability Plan, approved in 2010, is a comprehensive plan that addresses several areas, including students; College Woods and grounds; energy consumption and waste reduction; education and the curriculum; transportation and travel; college advancement and external relations; business practices, vendors and partners; and college buildings.

In September 2010, MC announced its participation in a new program to encourage sustainability in all aspects of higher education. The program, called the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), is administered by the AASHE. Thanks to a grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, which has been applied to sustainability and environmentally conscious projects and research on campus, Maryville College was able to obtain STARS 1.0 to begin the initial process of achieving a sustainability rating and assessment of the campus.

Over the last year, a team of students, faculty and staff has been collecting data points for four key categories that are outlined by the STARS reporting tool: 1) education and research; 2) operations; 3) planning, administration and engagement; and 4) innovation. The team’s final data will be verified, completed and submitted in January 2012.

“This will benefit the College by providing a baseline to our sustainability practices and standards and aid us in the ability to further develop and grow towards being a more sustainable campus,” said Schwarte, who is the College’s representative for the program. “It will also give us a rating that is valid for three years so we can promote and share with others the programs we are engaged in that are part of our environmental ethic.”

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,197.