The University of Mississippi’s Office of Sustainability has launched its Task Force on Energy, Environment & Sustainability designed to create, aid and implement campus sustainability efforts.
The task force has two primary goals: to engage the campus in ongoing dialogue about reaching environmental sustainability; and to progress in UM’s commitment to adhere to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, signed last spring by Chancellor Robert Khayat.
The long-term goal is to instill a culture of sustainability on campus, said task force member John Williamson, medicinal chemistry professor.
“This task force is about doing something good for mankind,” Williamson said. “We hope we can better the Earth for future generations.”
The task force has 19 members: six faculty, 11 staff and two students.
While the specific structure of the task force is still being worked out, the proposal is to have a series of subcommittees that can more efficiently manage niche environmental needs. Under the proposal, task force members will chair the subcommittees, and the meetings are to be open to the public.
Proposed subcommittees include energy conservation, recycling/waste management, and technology.
The task force has named Mike Mossing, associate professor of chemistry, as the first sustainability fellow. The main duty of the sustainability fellow is to track the university’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint as part of the presidents’ commitment agreement.
Mossing described the first phase of this process as mostly numbers crunching as he collects data history to determine the university’s greenhouse gas emission for the past 10 years. After his calculations are completed, the task force will work as a whole to reduce emissions and help the institution become climate neutral. Mossing describes this process as tremendously challenging.
“I think it’s really important that we do this and do this right,” said Mossing. “I’m willing to put in some hard work to make sure we do a good job.”