UTSA president forms Sustainability Council to enhance environmental support

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(Aug. 27, 2010)--UTSA President Ricardo Romo has established the UTSA Sustainability Council to enhance university efforts to support a "green" environment. The standing committee will develop a five-year plan for UTSA programs and collaboration with community organizations.

"The Sustainability Council was established in response to UTSA community interest in taking a more proactive role in this important area," said Romo. "I am enthusiastic about what I think will be an important contribution to making UTSA and our community greener."

A key council member is Les Shephard, an internationally renowned expert on energy policy, who recently joined UTSA from Sandia National Laboratories. Shephard is director of the UTSA Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute. Through the new institute, CPS Energy and UTSA announced in June a 10-year, $50 million agreement that will position San Antonio as a leader in green technology research and play a major role in UTSA and San Antonio sustainability efforts.

Additionally, Derek Trimm, president of the UTSA Student Government Association, will join three other students on the council. SGA worked last spring for passage of a $5-per-semester green fee to fund sustainability projects. Students voted for the fee in April and the UT System Board of Regents approved it this month; the fee will begin spring 2011. Students have approved similar fees at UT Austin, UT El Paso, Texas A&M University, Texas State University and University of North Texas.

The 20-member council including UTSA students, faculty and staff is charged with advising senior administrators on (1) strategies for enhancing sustainability, (2) recommendations on initiatives and allocation of resources, (3) monitoring campus sustainability programs and (4) providing assistance in forming alliances with community partners.

The council is co-chaired by John Murphy, dean of the College of Architecture, and Dennis Haynes, interim dean of the College of Public Policy.

"Our goal is to energize the university community and champion sustainability, which is an important part of UTSA's strategic plan," said Haynes. "We look forward to developing alliances with San Antonio and regional partners to create sustainable policies and projects."

Next steps for the council will be to support development of energy consortia with the Southwest Research Institute and CPS Energy, develop a UTSA Sustainability website to showcase UTSA activities and promote involvement, consider allocation of seed funding for programs and research, support green campus operations, expand academic offerings and help student organizations launch new initiatives.

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UTSA Sustainability Council

  • John Frederick, provost and vice president for academic affairs (executive champion of UTSA sustainability)
  • John Murphy (co-chair), dean, College of Architecture
  • Dennis Haynes (co-chair), interim dean, College of Public Policy
  • Jeff Anderson, assistant vice president for strategic development
  • Pam Bacon, associate vice president for administration
  • Kim Bilica, assistant professor of interdisciplinary learning and teaching, College of Education and Human Development
  • Tim Brownlee, assistant director of public affairs
  • Itza Carbajal, sophomore, English major, history/legal studies minor, College of Liberal and Fine Arts
  • Ann Eisenberg, associate dean, Honors College
  • Kristina Henbest, sophomore, undeclared major
  • Lionel Maten, director of housing and residence life
  • John McCray, associate professor of management, College of Business
  • Barry McKinney, director of student activities
  • Christine Olejniczak, business operations manager, Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute
  • Mary Peters, associate director, Small Business Development Center
  • Harrison Pierce, junior, construction science and management major, business administration and public administration minor, College of Architecture
  • Hazem Rashed-Ali, assistant professor of architecture, College of Architecture
  • Les Shephard, director, Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute, and USAA Robert F. McDermott Distinguished Chair in Engineering
  • Dave Riker, associate vice president for facilities
  • Derek Trimm, Student Government Association president, senior, management major, legal studies minor, College of Business

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UTSA Sustainability Council roots

The UTSA Sustainability Council grew out of a presidential task force formed in spring 2009 to recommend a framework for sustainability supporting UTSA's strategic plan. Focusing on energy and the environment, the task force designated five key areas: leadership, academics, research, community engagement and outreach, and campus operations. The group compared UTSA green programs to those of aspirant universities and concluded that UTSA could surpass the aspirant programs with appropriate strategies, resource investment and community partnerships.

Led by Sonia Martinez, special assistant to the president, task force members were:

  • Mauli Agrawal, dean of the College of Engineering
  • Julius Gribou, executive vice provost
  • Lowa Mwilambwe, director of the University Center
  • Kevin Price, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students
  • Dave Riker, associate vice president for facilities
  • Dagoberto Rodriguez, energy manager, facilities engineering and project management