Higher Education Webinars

Getting to Green

An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

April 6, 2009 - 8:57pm
I was speaking recently with the dean of faculty at a small US polytechnic. Toward the end of the conversation, he mentioned that he was planning on giving up his job sometime next year. I asked why, knowing that (1) his hardest battles were now behind him, and (2) he couldn't yet afford to retire -- certainly not given current financial market conditions. His answer: "Well, I've been there about 15 years. When you've been in the same spot for fifteen years, it's time to move on."
April 3, 2009 - 3:14pm
The American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (or "PCC") has been around for a couple of years now. Over 600 schools have signed on, and many of those have completed and filed their initial (baseline) greenhouse gas inventories. Completing a GHG inventory is the major deliverable due one year after a school signs the PCC.
April 2, 2009 - 10:19pm
I was on a campus recently, not too far from where I live. (One of the advantages of being in the northeast is that there are lots of colleges and universities nearby.) I had been on the same campus before, but this time I was looking at some of the academic space with not a parent's eye nor a student's eye, but with a sustainability administrator's eye. It was beautiful, in a kind of pre-first-Great-Depression institutional way. But it was too tall.
April 1, 2009 - 6:18pm
While I was learning about the workings of colleges and universities, I ran into Harvard's management model, which was described with the phrase "each tub on its own bottom". What was explained to me is a system in which, within limits, each school or college is treated as a business unit and is responsible for its own financial well-being. The university, thus, operates almost as a holding company or loose-knit conglomerate.
March 29, 2009 - 6:49pm
My previous post was perhaps not worse than a crime, but it was definitely a blunder. To go 0-for-2 in terms of mathematical logic in a post which excoriates other folks for not understanding mathematical logic, well ... some days, it just doesn't pay getting out of bed in the morning.Looking back, though, I can see how I got to "should have stood in bed" status.
March 26, 2009 - 4:52pm
I'll admit to being a little bit anal when it comes to math. I'm not sure "anal" is the right word, but I do expect numbers to make sense and people who can't make sense of numbers to stay as far away from them as possible. So, I want to squeeze in one last "the press is so stupid" post before the month is through.
March 25, 2009 - 5:52pm
I was in a grocery store checkout line last week. The woman in line ahead of me had two children with her: a small baby and a girl about three years old.As I started unloading my cart, I heard the three-year-old informing the cashier, quietly but firmly, that she was not a princess. I was, of course, immediately impressed with the kid's firm grasp on reality. (On the other hand, three-year-olds can be very literal-minded.)
March 23, 2009 - 4:48pm
Saturday, the Washington Post finally published the news that George Will has been intentionally misinforming his readers on the topic of climate change.
March 20, 2009 - 3:48pm
Two quick postscripts to finish out the week.After Wednesday's post about the shape of knowledge, I found mention of a study done at Los Alamos National Labs, mapping the interconnections and relationships among academic fields, based on clickstream data from online journals. No huge surprises, but one interesting conclusion: humanities and social sciences articles apparently provide significant inspiration (metaphors? marketing data?) to folks researching the hard sciences.
March 19, 2009 - 3:15pm
Sustainability, as any cause, has its wild-eyed fundamentalists. True believers who know, in their souls, the one true path to nirvana and the single step necessary to get us there. I'm not one of those -- if anything, I'm an assertive agnostic on how we get there from here. I just know we've got to make the journey and that there will be lots of steps along the way.

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