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University of Central Missouri
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Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
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UCM Earns Prestigious Climate Leadership Award

Contact Jeff Murphy  |  Video
WARRENSBURG, MO (May 7, 2012) – A commitment to sustainability made possible through a number of student-led efforts has contributed to the prestigious 2012 Climate Leadership Award for the University of Central Missouri. Second Nature, the lead supporting organization of the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, has announced the award with ACUPCC.

UCM was one of 10 institutions across the nation to be recognized in this third annual awards program. According to Second Nature, awards honor ACUPCC signatory schools “that demonstrate unparalleled campus innovation and climate leadership that helps transition society to a clean, just and sustainable future.”

Award winners were selected among 20 finalists that were chosen by Second Nature’s Board of Directors. These recipients are from all parts of the United States and represent the diversity of institutions located throughout the nation. UCM was recognized in a category for master’s degree-granting institutions.

 “These institutions are leading the way for the academic community by demonstrating how sustainable practices can be put into place on campus that have a long-term impact on creating a sustainable society for the benefit of all,” said Anthony D. Cortese, president of Second Nature. “They have all shown tremendous creativity and an unrelenting commitment to integrate sustainable practices into their campuses and society as a whole.”

 “This is a very important recognition of our mission, and to be named among several outstanding colleges and universities who are leading by example in the area of sustainability,” noted UCM President Charles Ambrose. “Our engagement in this awards program is certainly the result of a campus-wide effort, but also a strong reflection of the hard work of our students who understand the importance of sustainability to their future and genuinely want to make a difference at the university and in their community.”

He pointed to the work of students such as Manny Abarca, who will receive a master’s degree during commencement exercises May 4. He was one of two students who approached the administration more than two years ago about establishing a campus-wide recycling program. Today this program is thriving at the university and Abarca has been providing leadership within the student-run Office of Sustainability.

“The Office of Sustainability serves as an outstanding example of student engagement and how when students are empowered they can create award-winning programs through which they further home their own leadership and professional skills and ultimately create positive social action and cultural change,” said
Shari Bax, vice provost for student experience and engagement.

Other initiatives include the Re-Cycles program, which loans bikes to students to promote energy efficiency, and the annual “Mess on the Mall,” which demonstrates to students, faculty and staff, the value of recycling. Students have also assisted the city of Warrensburg to initiate its own recycling program.

In addition to these initiatives, the university has been a leader among academic institutions in sustainability through a campus-wide energy efficiency program that covered approximately $20 million in deferred maintenance and $16 million in energy efficiency upgrades. Completed more than a year ago, this two-year project was designed to reduce the university’s carbon footprint and save the institution hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in energy savings through efforts such as the installation of high-efficiency lighting and windows throughout campus and deploying a geothermal heating and cooling system. The university also incorporated energy-efficiency measures into the renovation of the Morrow-Garrison complex and the new Student Recreation and Wellness Center, which were completed last year, and meet LEED Silver standards.

Abarca said nationwide students want to know about the sustainability efforts on campus. In fact, “USA Today” reported that 63 percent of high school students and their parents care about a college’s commitment to the environment.

“For me, it’s a great honor for my institution to be recognized for such a prestigious award,” Abarca added.

All award winners will be recognized in an award ceremony with their peer institutions at the ACUPCC Climate Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. June 21-22. To learn more about UCM’s sustainability efforts and hear comments made by students and others involved, see the following video.