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MISSISSIPPI PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES CREATE SUSTAINABILITY CULTURE ON CAMPUS

2/11/2019 - Jackson, Miss.

As places where thousands live, work and learn, Mississippi's public university campuses consume a lot. A lot of commodities. A lot of electricity, water and natural gas. A lot of paper, plastic and glass. However, sustainability efforts minimize the impact of that consumption and create a culture where recycling and sustainability habits are formed across the campus community.

Jackson State University has recently launched its Go Blue Be Green Initiative which will expand the recycling and waste reduction opportunities campus-wide to more than 50 buildings and facilities on the main campus. Phase I serves as the pilot and begins with the placement of recycling bins in the J. P. Jacobs Administrative Tower and the Student Center. Future phases will extend to recycling initiatives to academic buildings, dining hall, residential dorms, and other campus facilities.

Mississippi State University has demonstrated a commitment to sustainability for a decade. In 2009, MSU President Mark Keenum signed the American Colleges and Universities Presidents Climate Commitment. Since that time MSU has adopted a Sustainability Policy as well as developed a Climate Action Plan.

Many initiatives have been developed to achieve the university's sustainability goals. Cowbell Cleanup is an initiative to promote recycling during tailgating at home football games. Cowbell Cleanup leaders have a tent in the Junction where volunteers meet three hours before kickoff. Volunteers interact with fans and educate them on recycling and encourage them not to litter while at MSU. Trash and recycling bags as well as other marketing materials are distributed.

Another initiative includes purchasing bottle filling stations on campus and working with buildings to share the cost of this effort. MSU has operated a campus-wide recycling program for more than 5 years. In an effort to improve the recycling effort, new recycling bins have been purchased for several buildings on campus. Campus Services has implemented a blue-bag policy across campus to further enhance the recycling program. The Sustainability Committee continues to examine the Sustainability Policy to ensure that the policy keeps pace with campus needs. A social media presence increases awareness of various events, including Earth Day and Green Week.

Sustainability efforts also extend to technological sustainability. At the Mississippi University for Women, technological sustainability efforts are focused on security, performance and redundancy.

In 2016, the Department of Information Technology Services (ITS) completed a major switching infrastructure design and upgrade that boosted the university's performance from 1Gbps to 10Gbps while simultaneously providing a path for further bandwidth expansion.

Since 2016, new related infrastructure components have included new switches for renovated buildings, core firewalls and routers, data storage repositories, additional fiber installations and increased Internet bandwidth. In 2017, a disaster recovery technology project was implemented and is still under way. New wireless technology resulted in cost savings compared to installing the traditional underground fiber that would have required work on the railroad that runs through campus.

Mississippi Valley State University's Sustainability Initiative is creating awareness, facilitating transformative dialogue and providing opportunities for meaningful activities geared toward the development of a sustainable campus and community. The initiative focuses on the importance of sustainability; provides support for the on-campus MVSU Recycling Center; offers educational opportunities for the campus and community; and uses revenue generated from the Recycling Center to provide scholarships for students participating in greening/sustainability initiatives.

The University of Mississippi's Office of Sustainability serves as a catalyst for environmentally positive change by educating, connecting and empowering the members of our community for the wellbeing of people and ecological systems. The UM Green Fund supports innovative sustainability projects such as the establishment of the university-wide composting program.

Sustainability is a core component of the UM Master plan, including designing pedestrian-friendly spaces, expanding the bicycle network on campus and maintaining and enhancing green space on campus. Sustainability is particularly important to a well-known green space on campus, the Grove. The Green Grove Gameday Recycling Program aims to reduce the amount of waste landfilled as a result of football tailgating.

In 2017, more than 200 students volunteered with Green Grove to help educate tailgaters and sort the collected recycling. The initiative diverted nearly three tons of recyclable materials from the landfill last year.

The University of Southern Mississippi participates in the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), the most important initial step the University has taken toward sustainability and its formal entrance into a green initiative.

USM's Office of Sustainability hosts several initiatives to aid in the sustainable efforts of students, faculty, and staff. From green efforts in waste management through the Lug-A-Mug program to lowering our CO2 footprint with the Eco Eagle Bike Program, the Office of Sustainability is vigilant and open to the needs of the student population. The Office of Sustainability also offers EcoEagle Ambassadors, an informal, peer-to-peer knowledge community charged with educating, motivating and inspiring members of the campus community.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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