Following the fall 2008 Sagan National Colloquium on climate change and sustainability at Ohio Wesleyan, students advocated for more action from the university.
President Jones responded by commissioning the President’s Sustainability Task Force, an ad hoc group led first by professor Laurie Anderson of the botany-microbiology Department.
“The sustainability task force that I appointed in my first year on campus has provided excellent leadership, has developed a wealth of ideas and is implementing a number of those ideas,” Jones said. “The energy that students bring to the sustainability program is important of course as well.”
Their original goal was to evaluate whether OWU should sign the Presidents’ Climate Commitment (PCC), but the Task Force did not reach a conclusive recommendation because they did not want to see OWU sign the PCC nominally. The group also worked with Sean Kinghorn on improving energy efficiency and several other projects.
“We looked at energy efficiency, we did audits of buildings and water and electricity and stuff like that,” said Tom Wolber, a modern foreign languages professor, last year’s chair and a long-time task force member. “…We finished the project, but we never submitted a formal recommendation to the president.”
Other chairs include Anderson for the STF’s first three years, and philosophy professor Shari Stone-Mediatore. Last year the group only met once, but this year they want to pursue several initiatives. including raising awareness and developing a campus sustainability plan.
Wolber said he had a number of projects on his to-do list, but little progress was made.
“The task force could have done more. When I was chair, at the first meeting I proposed many many actions, I don’t think a single one was taken because it didn’t get enough traction, either from my colleagues or the administrators.”
– Tom Wolber
Burnout among the faculty members after Kinghorn left likely contributed to the little energy for projects, said Stone-Mediatore..
“The task force is fantastic and everyone is very passionate but everyone has full-time jobs, including students,” said Kinghorn, on how effective he thought it could function alone.
Several faculty, university staff and some students make up the task force, a volunteer group.