The University of Mississippi’s commitment to sustainability lies at the center of its values, as the institution’s creed states, “I believe in good stewardship of our resources.” UM has earned a spot in the Princeton Review’s Guide to 332 Green Colleges and is continually advancing sustainability, making it a frontrunner institution for sustainability in the state of Mississippi.
In 2008, UM established the Office of Sustainability, after Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat signed the American Colleges and President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). Chancellor Dan Jones re-signed the commitment on Earth Day 2014, once again recognizing the University’s commitment to environmental sustainability. As signatories to the ACUPCC, the University of Mississippi has committed to developing an institutional action plan to achieve climate neutrality.
UM offers a minor in environmental studies as well as courses in topics related to sustainability spanning a variety of disciplines. Majorly renovated or newly constructed buildings are built to LEED standards, including the gold certified Robert C. Khayat Law Center.
Among the most notable sustainability initiatives at the university is the Green Fund. The Green Fund was established in 2013 and exists to fund sustainability projects led by students, faculty, and staff. Since its establishment, the Green Fund has successfully funded 10 sustainability projects ranging from the development of a composting program to installing energy saving film on windows in the undergraduate library. The Office of Sustainability also employs several student interns during the spring and fall semesters as part of the Green Student Intern Program, which offers hands-on experience and leadership opportunities. Student interns run programs including the Green Grove Initiative, which promotes recycling on football game days, and the UM Composting Program, which has diverted nearly 13,000 pounds of pre-consumer food waste from the landfill in one semester.
In fall 2014, UM received an honorable mention Bicycle Friendly University designation from the League of American Bicyclists and was named a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. Annual events at UM include Food Day, a celebration of local food featuring an on-campus farmers market and Green Week, a collection of events including a keynote speaker and Sustainability Fair focused on raising awareness of sustainability related issues among the campus community.
As part of the Planet Forward consortium, the University of Mississippi will continue to engage students in sustainability through education and outreach.