Eleven Million Reasons to Sign the ACUPCC
By Jeff Julian, Director of Communications and External Relations and Sustainability Initiatives Committee Member, Joliet Junior College
Less than one-third of the 645 colleges and universities that have signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) are two-year institutions. It is an interesting number when you consider that according to the American Association of Community Colleges, the nation’s 1,173 two-year community and technical colleges enroll more than 11 million students annually.
One can only speculate as to the reasons why other two-year schools haven’t become signatories. Before Joliet Junior College (JJC) signed on, our college leaders discussed many issues, including the benefits and obligations of the commitment, the economic impact in light of uncertain funding sources, and the role climate change and sustainability will play in future institutional planning.
In the end, college leaders supported the ACUPCC, which is in line with the institution’s current commitment to sustainable practices and recognizes the past work in this area by the college community. For Joliet Junior College, joining the climate commitment wasn’t the beginning; it was a reaffirmation of a responsibility to the environment that students, faculty, staff and alumni have pledged for many decades. From prairie restoration grants to energy usage audits to incorporating LEED in master planning, JJC has always been a good steward of its resources as is the case at many two-year institutions.
When JJC President Gena Proulx signed the commitment in 2009, she wrote, “By signing this commitment, college presidents do more than just bring sustainability issues to the forefront of the campus discussion. They also guide their institutions as they join a group of leaders united in their commitment to minimize the effects of climate change while educating and training the workforce to help achieve this.”
When it comes to climate change and sustainability issues facing our nation and our world, the evidence continues to suggest that our time to make effective and lasting changes is limited. Two-year institutions will play an important role because they are largely responsible for educating and training the nation’s workforce, including those who will be employed in green collar jobs.
Though making a commitment of this magnitude is never easy, America’s community college presidents have 11 million reasons to consider signing the ACUPCC.
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