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OU Sustainability

A butterfly on a flower in a pollinator garden.

 
Mission

Oakland University commits to sustainability as a prime value in seeking to co-create a continuously deepening capacity for sustainability thinking, living, and visioning with students, faculty, staff, and the community at large.

As an institution of higher learning, the University supports teaching, research, outreach, and campus operations that encourage sustainable relationships, cultivate renewable habits, and help generate ecological values that reflect our responsibility for engendering a more just and habitable world.

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Vision

  • We envision a university that prioritizes sustainability as the goal of all educational effort by adopting the best practices, boldest thinking, and most creative models of adaptation (curriculum, research, operations).
  • We envision an educational experience that equips students to become agents of change and transformation, committed to working for a healthy and habitable biosphere conducive to the thriving of all life (curriculum).
  • We envision transformed disciplinary and educational paradigms premised on the coexistence of all living beings, taking the biosphere as primary teacher and practical laboratory for learning how to live (research and curriculum).
  • We envision robust support for interdisciplinary research that advances sustainability – from the physical and social sciences to the arts and humanities (research).
  • We envision a physical campus that contributes to the goal of carbon neutrality by minimizing the ecological footprint of its facilities and operations (operations).
  • We envision transportation, water, and food systems premised on the principles of renewability and sustainability, aimed at the eventual elimination of waste (operations).
  • We envision a transparent and accountable operational decision-making process that is informed by ecological thinking and that promotes healthy ecosystems and the flourishing of bio-life cycles beyond human utility (operations).
  • We envision research and outreach initiatives that educate and transform our communities, nourish our natural ecosystems, and enrich our cultural experiences (outreach/community  engagement, research, curriculum).
  • We envision a community awakened to the necessity of struggle—not as an option but as a condition—for bringing about a more just and livable future, following the lead of disadvantaged and marginalized communities working at the frontlines (community engagement, curriculum, research, diversity; diversity, equity and inclusion).

Please review the Oakland University Land Acknowledgement Statement.

Goals

Short-term goals (in the next 18 months)
  • Heighten awareness of sustainability and engage students and faculty in campus sustainability efforts.
  • Develop strategic action plans for each of the areas of the sustainability plan. (Each committee will develop a proposal that can be adopted in phases that coincide with the short-, medium- and long-term goals of the broader plan.)
  • Pursue STARS accreditation by: 1.) Assessing current sustainability practices of university activities; 2.) Identifying and prioritizing University practices that need “sustainability” action; and, 3.) Developing an action plan to make University practices more sustainable.
Medium-term goals (one year to 18 months)
  • Implement strategic action plans for each of the areas of the strategic plan.
  • Consider sustainability cluster hire, H2OU: Freshwater Sustainability in an Era of Global Change.
  • Elevate sustainability in the University’s Strategic Goals/Plan as an essential element of achieving University of Choice status.
  • Integrate OU’s commitment to sustainability into overall brand.
Long-term goals (18 months to four years)
  • Elevate OU as a resource to advise communities and private-sector businesses on sustainability issues and practices.
  • Establish the OU Center for Sustainability  along with an organizational structure that clearly and effectively coordinates sustainability initiatives on campus and around the region.
Campus Sustainability Month
  • “Sustainability: OU Students Speak Out – A Digital Presentation” Comments from students on the importance and urgency of addressing climate change and a range of sustainability issues.
    • October 3, 2022
    • Habitat, Oakland Center
  • Sustainability Awareness RallyComments from President Pescovitz, members of OU Student Congress, OU Sustainability Team, and the Campus Alliance for Sustainability and the Environment at OU.
    • October 4, 2022 - 11:30 a.m - 12:30 p.m.
    • Elliott Tower [weather permitting]
      • Backup location: Second Floor, Oakland Center [fireplace area]
  • The Spiritual Side of Renewable Energy Work – Managing Climate Grief & Anxiety. Presentation and discussion by Dr. Ben Luce, Northern Vermont University, through the Campus Alliance for Sustainability and the Environment at OU.
    • October 5, 2022 - 11:30 a.m - 1 p.m.
      • Via Zoom link - http://www.tinyurl.com/CASEatOU
  • "Sustainability and Climate: Policy Not Politics" Center for Civic Engagement Office Hours session. Guests: Mozhgon Rajaee and Chris Kobus, co-chairs of OU’s Sustainability Team.
    • October 6, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
    • Winter Garden, Oakland Center
  • Joyful/Festiful. Presented by OU Eats (Chartwells), includes food, Farmer's Market, donations to Golden Grizzlies Pantry.
    • October 6, 11:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
    • Elliott Tower
  • Think Globally. Act Locally. Conversations with Oakland County Sustainability Leaders moderated by Nina Misuraca Ignaczak, Editor, Planet Detroit
    • October 11, 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
      • Q&A from 1:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
    • Habitat, Oakland Center
      • Participants include Erin Quetell, OC Sustainability Officer; Jim Nash and Lynn Seymour, Water Resources; Carrie Hribar, Mark Hansell, OC Health Division.; Kegan Schildberg, OC Parks and Recreation; and Ed Joss, OC Facilities Dept.
  • Make a Difference DayCome give back and volunteer at local nonprofits in the community!
  • OU Eats (Chartwells) & Make Food Not Waste (MFNW). MFNW Executive Director Danielle Todd discusses ways to keep excess food going to waste and instead feeding people. Additionally, join OU Eats Executive Chef Kevin Peasgood for an interactive  teaching kitchen.
    • October 17, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
    • Winter Garden (near the Bistro), Oakland Center
  • Why sustainability matters? And what can I do to be more sustainable? Presentation & panel discussion with members of OU Sustainability Team and student-run sustainability groups.
    • October 24, 2022 - 11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. [Tentative]
    • Habitat, Oakland Center
  • Symbol of Commitment to Sustainability. Dedication of a “Living Wall” at the Oakland Center.
    • Date TBD
    • Oakland Center
  • Other Activities:
    • Ecology Walk
      • TBD

Watch for how you can donate through the All University
Fund Drive (AUFD) to sustainability projects and causes on campus.

Background

In October, 2019, President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz announced plans to engage the OU community in “reimagining” the path and potential of Oakland University. That endeavor, “Reimagining OU,” commenced in winter of 2020 under the leadership of Deans Kevin Corcoran and Graeme Harper. A key proposal in the “Reimagining OU” is a university sustainability plan.

That plan includes the following areas: curriculum, air and climate, buildings, energy, food and dining, grounds, investment, research, transportation, waste, recycling, water use/storm water management, campus and public engagement, planning, and well-being.

The first phase of the plan completed in fall 2021 was an assessment of current university sustainability practices. A team of dedicated and talented faculty and staff contributed to the report. In the next phase, proposals will be developed and presented to President Pescovitz. These recommendations will be refined based on overall university priorities, available resources and a timetable for the full implementation of the suggestions.

The sustainability plan will include input from faculty, staff and students, and reflect the mission, vision and values of Oakland University.

Leadership Team
  • Mozhgon Rajaee, Associate Professor, Health Sciences
  • Christopher Reed, Director, Oakland Center
  • Chris Kobus, Associate Professor, Engineering
  • Louay Chamra, Dean, School of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Steve Waterfield, Director, Athletics, OU Cabinet member
  • John Young, Vice President, University Communications & Marketing
  • Frank Provenzano, Director of Presidential Initiatives and Communications