University of Maine President Paul Ferguson has been elected vice chair of the Steering Committee of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), a network of over 680 colleges and universities addressing climate change and sustainability.
President Ferguson will be working with the new chair, Wim Wiewel, president of Portland State University.
ACUPCC was launched in early 2007. It is staffed and supported by Second Nature, a Boston-based national nonprofit organization that includes colleges and universities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, representing nearly 6.5 million students — about one third of the U.S. higher education student population. The program is led by a Steering Committee of more than 20 presidents of colleges and universities from around the country and across the breadth of higher education. The committee is responsible for guidance, policy and direction of the ACUPCC.
ACUPCC is an intensive partnership among more than 680 colleges and universities to accelerate the education, research and community engagement to equip society to restabilize the earth’s climate, while setting an example by eliminating net greenhouse gas emissions from their own operations. (presidentsclimatecommitment.org). Second Nature works to create a healthy, just, and sustainable society beginning with the transformation of higher education. Second Nature is the support organization of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. (secondnature.org).
The Steering Committee, chaired since 2010 by Timothy White, Chancellor of the California State University system, oversaw an ACUPCC network that not only grew in participation but, by 2014, had reduced greenhouse gases by over 25 percent cumulatively across the network.
“Chairing the steering committee of such an innovative, important, and successful effort has been a privilege and a true highlight for me,” indicated Chancellor White. “It’s now even more critical than when we started the ACUPCC seven years ago, that we continue to drive progress across higher education in developing and implementing effective climate responses. President Wiewel and President Ferguson are exactly the right people to further accelerate our efforts.”
UMaine is a national leader in sustainability. Since becoming president in 2011, Dr. Ferguson has maintained a long-held commitment to engagement, inclusivity and quality. Currently, UMaine is in the third year of the Blue Sky Project, a five-year strategic plan designed to elevate the University of Maine to new levels of excellence as the most distinctively student-centered and community-engaged of the American research universities.
Portland State University has received numerous awards for its sustainability programs. Led by President Wiewel since 2008, Portland State has developed a renewed focus on expanding civic partnerships in the region and achieving a new degree of excellence through investments, such as the $25 million James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation challenge grant for sustainability.
Both universities became ACUPCC signatory schools in 2007 — its first year of existence.
“Stepping into these roles after such incredible progress and leadership that has already been demonstrated allows us to build on a foundation that, since 2007, has enjoyed the active commitment of not only a diverse and engaged Steering Committee but also the entire network,” said President Ferguson. “ACUPCC continues to play an enormous role in helping our students thrive in the 21st century, and we aim to continue to promote and grow this effort.”
“The 680 ACUPCC institutions employing a wide variety of solutions to make sustainability a bedrock principle of society are not only rebuilding our economy but are also helping to chart a future in which prosperity, security, and health coexist easily,” said David Hales, President of Second Nature. “At Second Nature, we are thrilled that Dr. Wiewel and Dr. Ferguson have agreed to head the Steering Committee and we look forward to continuing to support the ACUPCC network and their leadership.”
UMaine is in a “smart-growth” period of sustainability. Even with essential new construction and necessary upgrades to older infrastructure, multiple building renovations and energy-efficiency upgrades have contributed to an overall reduction in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions since 2005. And thus far, the university’s sustainability initiatives have earned it national recognition.
Continued sustainability at UMaine is important because it can produce reductions in operating costs that save money for the university, community and students; promote institutional leadership by setting models for other buildings in the state and country; and create community engagement through the use of local building or energy companies.
The university is now home to five LEED-certified buildings, including three silver and one gold. It has a comprehensive campus recycling program, which includes a new, advanced composting facility, and is a participant in STARS — the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System. Among UMaine’s recent honors and distinctions recognizing its national leadership as a green campus:
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745