UM, Oxford Improve Safety for Cyclists, Pedestrians

Complete Streets pop-up experiment to affect sections of University Avenue in July

OXFORD, Miss. – Pedestrians, cyclists and motorists can take to the streets, all part of an innovative experiment throughout July when a section of University Avenue is temporarily transformed to include two bicycle lanes, mid-block crosswalks and other infrastructure.

Cyclists ride along University Avenue, where a Complete Streets Pop Up will be installed for the month of July. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Cyclists ride along University Avenue, where a Complete Streets pop-up will be installed in July. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The city of Oxford Pathways Commission and the University of Mississippi Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee are collaborating to implement Oxford’s first-ever temporary Complete Streets pop-up,” said Sara Douglass, post baccalaureate fellow in the university’s Office of Sustainability. “Complete Streets is a term referring to a street design that incorporates infrastructure for all users of the road to ensure that everyone gets from point A to point B safely no matter the mode of transportation.”

Communities across the country are using this type of approach to experiment with different types of streetscapes. The pop-up, which will be supported in part by crowd-source funding, will be installed on the section of University Avenue between Fifth Street and Grove Loop.

Donations are being sought to help implement the project. The Oxford Cycling Club and the UM Office of Sustainability will provide a 100 percent match for all donations, up to $2,000. All contributions will support the purchase of supplies and materials, such as temporary marking tape and equipment to install it.

The plan includes reducing four travel lanes to two and adding two to three pedestrian islands/crosswalks near St. John’s Catholic Church and the Music Building. Throughout the month, volunteers, the Office of Sustainability and the Pathways Commission will collect data to assess the project’s effectiveness.

“The goal of the Complete Streets pop-up project is to get a taste of what it would look like and how University Avenue would function if we conveniently accommodated bikes and pedestrians without having to invest in permanent infrastructure,” Douglass said. “We also hope to reduce motor vehicle speeds. The speed on that road is actually 20 miles per hour, but right now the average speed of motor vehicle traffic is at 32 miles per hour. We’d like to see that reduced because there are high numbers of pedestrians and cyclists on that section of University.”

The monthlong improvement recently received unanimous support from the Oxford Board of Alderman.

“I am a supporter of alternative means of transportation, other than motor vehicles, in our community,” said Jay Hughes, an Oxford alderman. “The pop-up project is a positive way to increase the percentage of bicycle users, which makes things safer for everyone. It’s rare that we get to test something such as this for its effectiveness before making a final decision about it.”

To make a donation or learn more, visit  http://green.olemiss.edu/popup/ .

McCauley, Bombelli Win 2015 Frist Student Service Awards

Honorees lauded at Commencement for dedication to helping students

McCauley accepts the Frist Student Service Award on Saturday, May 9, 2015. Photo by Kevin Bain.

Anne McCauley accepts the Frist Student Service Award. Photo by Kevin Bain.

OXFORD, Miss. – All University of Mississippi employees contribute in some way to the overall student experience, but some faculty and staff go beyond the call of duty in their commitment to helping students. The annual Frist Student Service Awards honors those dedicated individuals.

During the university’s Commencement ceremonies Saturday (May 9), Anne McCauley, UM assistant director of sustainability, and Luca Bombelli, associate professor of physics and astronomy, were introduced as the 2015 Frist winners.

Service is a key commitment that is asked of everyone at the university, Chancellor Dan Jones said. For this reason, the Frist award is a special and important honor.

“The Frist award recognizing service to our students is a special honor,” Jones said. “Both of this year’s recipients support the mission of the university in many ways. But the attention to the success of our students and opportunities for student engagement has been noted by many. I congratulate and thank Ms. McCauley and Dr. Bombelli for their remarkable service to students.”

The award was established 20 years ago with a financial gift from Dr. Thomas F. Frist Sr., a 1930 UM graduate from Nashville. Frist is the founder of Hospital Corporation of America.

Since 1995, the Frist Student Service Awards have honored one faculty member and one staff member. The two recipients receive $1,000 and a plaque.

Both of this year’s recipients said they were humbled by the recognition.

Bombelli, who joined the faculty in 1999, said he was surprised to win the award.

“I never saw this coming,” Bombelli said. “I am extremely pleased and honored to be receiving the Frist award. I am also surprised because I know that I am just one of many members of this university whose top priority is making sure that we provide students with the best education and support we can as they prepare for their careers in an open and inclusive environment.”

One international student in the doctoral program said that when he first arrived, Bombelli went to great lengths to help him get connected with another student who became his roommate. He also sent someone to pick up new students at the airport and helped them get hotel rooms once they arrived. He is also very valuable as a mentor. 

“He always has an open office door, as well as an open mind for conversation,” the student wrote in his nomination letter. “He befriends all of the students and is aware of our concerns and passions. He genuinely cares about us as individuals and serves as a life mentor as well as an academic mentor. Students recognize this and go to him in droves for help, guidance and a friendly ear.”

Dr. Brandi Hephner LaBanc presents Dr. Luca Bombelli with the Frist Student Service Award. Photo by Kevin Bain.

Brandi Hephner LaBanc presents Luca Bombelli with the Frist Student Service Award. Photo by Kevin Bain.

Bombelli also listens to students’ opinions. He organized luncheons for students to get to know job candidates for two faculty positions and passed their input on those selections to the department chair.

McCauley, who joined the UM staff in 2008, said the students make her job rewarding.

“I am so honored to receive this award because working with students is the most rewarding part of my job,” McCauley said. “They challenge me and make me want to be my best self. I think I gain from them as much if not more than I give.”

Sustainability efforts on campus require lots of dirty jobs, which include sorting through mountains of recyclable materials after home football games. McCauley often works right beside her student workers to help the university meet its sustainability goals. She also has been a champion of the university’s goal to become more bicycle-friendly. Away from campus, she prepares dinners for graduating student interns.

One student intern sang McCauley’s praises in his Frist nomination letter. He said he wasn’t treated like an intern; rather, he was treated as an important part of the team. This allowed him to learn a lot about the workings of an institution of higher learning, which will serve him well in his career.

“I was most inspired by Anne’s resilience when situations didn’t go as planned,” he wrote. “She never wavered from working hard to achieve her project goals. I am thankful every day for the opportunity to serve as one of Anne’s interns. It taught me countless skills and provided me with real-world experience that I believe would otherwise be rarely encountered by a college undergraduate. I know she will always be there for me with advice as I move forward with my future endeavors.”

University to Celebrate Green Week April 21-24

Events include lectures, a film and annual Sustainability Fair

2014's Green Week included a "trash cube" located on campus to bring awareness of recycling.

2014’s Green Week included a ‘trash cube’ on campus to spark awareness of recycling.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi will observe Green Week April 21-24 with the goal of raising awareness on campus and in the community about the importance of environmental sustainability.

“For me, Green Week is a high point in the academic year, since it offers a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about our environment in a number of different ways, while celebrating the beautiful spring weather,” said Ann Fisher-Wirth, professor of English and director of the UM environmental studies minor. “One of its main events is our Earth Day speaker, highly acclaimed anthropologist Paige West.”

West, a professor of anthropology at Columbia University’s Barnard College, will deliver the Earth Day keynote address at 7 p.m. Wednesday (April 22) in the Overby Center. She plans to discuss the impact of current and future climate changes on the people of New Guinea and the Pacific islands.

Green Week events kick off at 10 a.m. Tuesday (April 21) with a 30-minute walk along a portion of the Ole Miss Tree Trail guided by Nathan Lazinsky, a certified arborist from Landscape Services. At 7 p.m., the Honors College Student Union will host a screening of the film “GMO! OMG!” as part of its Progressive Film Series.

The annual Sustainability Fair takes place on the Student Union Plaza from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday (April 22). It features interactive displays from campus and community groups, an on-campus farmers market and more. Participants will receive tickets, which can be redeemed for prizes, for visiting each table.

“The Sustainability Fair helps illustrate all of the resources that our campus and community has to offer,” said Lindsey Abernathy, project coordinator in the Office of Sustainability. “This year, we’ll have a display where students, faculty and staff can calculate and learn more about their carbon footprints. We’ll also have signage throughout the fair communicating the ways in which each of the different groups at the fair can help reduce that footprint. The focus is on solutions.”

Other Green Week activities include Pedal and Picnic, a group bike ride followed by a free lunch courtesy of Freshii and Ole Miss Dining, and the EcoGala Art Show, a sophisticated and sustainable showing of student artwork. Registration is required for Pedal and Picnic. Email green@olemiss.edu to reserve a spot.

Green Week will conclude on Arbor Day (April 24) with a tree planting celebration in the Circle led by Jeff McManus, UM landscape services director. Attendees will receive free Ole Miss seedlings that were transplanted from the Circle earlier this year, while supplies last.

All Green Week events are free and open to the public. For more information about Green Week, visit http://greenweek.olemiss.edu or email green@olemiss.edu.

 

2015 Green Week Schedule of Events

Tuesday, April 21

10-10:30 a.m. – Tree Trail Walk, meet at the flagpole in the Circle

7 p.m. – “GMO, OMG!” film screening, Barnard Observatory

 

Wednesday, April 22 (Earth Day)

10 a.m.-2 p.m. – Sustainability Fair, Student Union Plaza

7 p.m. – Earth Day keynote address by Paige West, Overby Center Auditorium

9 p.m. – Jammin’ for the Planet (Green Fund Benefit Concert), Proud Larry’s

 

Thursday April 23

11 a.m.-noon – Pedal and Picnic, group bike ride and free lunch from Freshii. Registration required. Email green@olemiss.edu to reserve your spot.

7 p.m. – EcoGala Student Art Show, Bryant Hall

 

Friday, April 24 (Arbor Day)

11 a.m. – Arbor Day tree planting and celebration, Carrier Hall

12:30-1:30 p.m. – Environmental Law Lecture by Steve McKinney, Khayat Law Center, Room 2094

Columbia University Anthropologist is UM Earth Day Lecturer

Paige West will discuss Papua New Guinean research April 22 at Overby Center

OXFORD, Miss. – Renowned Columbia University anthropologist Paige West is the featured speaker for Earth Day at the University of Mississippi.

Paige West will discuss “Imagining Pacific Futures: Climate Change, Local Livelihoods and International Environmentalist Rhetorics.” The free program is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday (April 22) in the Overby Center Auditorium.

“Dr. West’s work has broad scholarly interest,” said Robbie Etheridge, UM professor of anthropology and co-organizer of the event. “West has written about the linkages between environmental conservation and international development. Since the mid-1990s she has worked with indigenous people in Papua New Guinea to understand their traditions, especially as they relate to biodiversity, and to help them figure out how to conserve their cultures, languages and environments.”

A graduate of Rutgers University, she joined the faculty at Barnard College and Columbia University in 2001, where she is a professor of anthropology.

West has published two books and is the editor of three more. Her work focuses on indigenous adaptation to climate change across the Pacific.

Honors and awards West has received include the American Anthropological Association’s Anthropology and Environment Junior Scholar award, the American Association of University Women Junior Faculty Fellowship and the American Council of Learned Societies Faculty Fellowship. She also held a Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Fellowship in 2007 and in was named a fellow by the Association of Social Anthropology in Oceania.

In 2008, West founded the journal Environment and Society: Advances in Research, published by Berghahn Books. She serves as editor for the publication.

In 2012, West became chair of the Ecology and Culture University Seminar at Columbia. She also has served as the chair of the Association of Social Anthropology in Oceania and is the past president of the Anthropology and Environment Society of the American Anthropological Association.

Two years ago, West delivered the Leonard Hastings Schoff Memorial Lectures at Columbia University. She is the co-founder of the PNG Institute of Biological Research, a small nongovernmental organization dedicated to building academic opportunities for research in Papua New Guinea, and the Roviana Solwara Skul, a school in the island nation dedicated to teaching at the nexus of indigenous knowledge and Western scientific knowledge.

For more about UM’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology, visit http://socanth.olemiss.edu/.

UM Campus Leaders Work to Achieve Climate Neutrality

University establishes Broad Council for Sustainability, works on environmental education and research

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi leaders gathered recently to discuss an action plan to advance sustainable initiatives on campus, with the long-term goal of achieving climate neutrality.

The Feb. 24 gathering took place as part of the university’s first-ever meeting of the Broad Council for Sustainability, a group that will advise, adopt and begin implementing a climate action plan designed specifically for Ole Miss.

“Higher education institutions have a significant role here,” said Ian Banner, university architect and director of sustainability and facilities planning. “There are a lot of unknowns on the road to climate neutrality – it may even be our graduates who develop solutions to help us reach our goal. In the meantime, it’s our responsibility to begin this necessary journey. What we do here matters.”

The creation of the council is a result of the university’s participation in the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, or ACUPCC, which Chancellor Dan Jones signed in April 2014. UM is among 686 universities nationwide to make this commitment to climate neutrality.

During the meeting, Provost Morris Stocks acknowledged the university’s unique position when addressing climatic issues, not only because of the large-scale operations taking place on campus but also from a research and educational standpoint.

“As our chancellor says, our responsibility of transforming lives extends to helping our students be good stewards of our resources,” said Stocks, who welcomed the council on behalf of Jones. “When we integrate sustainability into our educational experience, we are achieving our mission of supporting students’ development of critical and creative-thinking abilities, their sense of global responsibility and promotion of lifelong learning.”

To achieve climate neutrality, the university must reach a point at which it has net zero greenhouse gas emissions. This goal is attainable by eliminating or reducing these emissions as much as possible and mitigating the remaining emissions, according to the APCUCC.

The university will begin its journey toward climate neutrality by gathering data through a greenhouse gas inventory and by assessing UM through the Association of Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System. UM groups will then move forward to develop and begin implementing the plan.

“Human influence and greenhouse gases are the dominant causes of the increase in global average temperature of the Earth,” said Mustafa Altinakar, director and research professor of the UM National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering, who spoke at the meeting. “The impacts are observed in rising sea levels, precipitation patterns, hydrologic regimes, floods and droughts, and environmental processes. We must reduce our carbon footprint and take the necessary steps to reduce our vulnerability to future climate change impacts.”

New Residential Learning Community Focuses on Sustainability

Apply now to the Red, Blue, & Green Freshman Interest Group

The new Red, Blue, & Green freshman interest group will be housed in the Residential College South.

The new Red, Blue, & Green Freshman Interest Group will be housed in the Residential College South.

The University of Mississippi will be home to a new residential learning experience focused on environmental sustainability beginning in the 2015-2016 academic year. The Red, Blue, & Green Freshman Interest Group (FIG) is now accepting applications for its inaugural community.

A freshman interest group (FIG) is a specific community for first-year students with shared interests in which they live, learn, and grow together. The Office of Sustainability, in partnership with the Department of Student Housing, the Residential College South and the College of Liberal Arts, will host the community of approximately 20 students who will live in the Red, Blue, & Green community within the Residential College South.

“We wanted to provide incoming freshman an opportunity to fully immerse themselves in sustainability at Ole Miss,” said Sara Douglass, post baccalaureate fellow in the Office of Sustainability. “Through their participation in the FIG, students will be equipped with change agent skills to create a meaningful impact on sustainability at UM.”

Douglass worked with Student Housing and Marvin King, senior fellow of Residential College South, to develop and implement the program.

As members of this group, students will gain access to many outstanding opportunities as well as lifelong relationships. All of the students in the community will take part in “From Farm to Fork: Going Green Locally,” a LIBA 102 course designed to facilitate conversation about food and its environmental impact, as well as give students the opportunity to engage in discussion on common coursework and readings.

Along with the shared academic aspect, students will develop engaged scholarship and responsible citizenry skills through a variety of leadership and service related activities. FIG programming will also help students develop an understanding of their carbon footprint, energy and water consumption and current sustainability initiatives on campus. From field trips to lectures, to work in the community garden or shared meals in the dining hall, members of the Red, Blue, & Green FIG will have ample opportunity to learn and experience environmental sustainability and conservation together as a community.

To apply or learn more about the Red, Blue, & Green FIG, click here or contact Sara Douglass at scdougla@olemiss.edu.

Campus Leaders Join Sustainability Broad Council

Sustainability Broad Council works to advance sustainablity on UM campus

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss CommunicationsRepresentatives from all corners of the university community will convene for the first- ever meeting of the Sustainability Broad Council on Tuesday, February 24.

The council was established to enact the measures recommended by the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), signed by Chancellor Dan Jones in April 2014. A collaboration of more than twenty different offices and organizations across campus, the Sustainability Broad Council will oversee the development and university-wide institutionalization of a sustainability and climate action plan.

Members of the Broad Council will include representatives from the Chancellor’s Office, the Department of Athletics, and Ole Miss Dining Services, as well as the Associated Student Body and the Graduate Student Council. Support for the council’s creation has come from across campus.

“I believe this is a very important subject that deserves much discussion,” said Carl Hill, president of UM Staff Council.

The full membership of the Sustainability Broad Council will meet biannually, with working groups of the council meeting more frequently to accomplish particular tasks and monitor progress. The initial February meeting will give an overview of the Broad Council and ACUPCC timeline, and establish a timeline for next steps.

Five New Sustainability Projects Receive Funding

UM Green Fund receives record number of project proposals from students, faculty and staff

The Green Fund has funded nine projects since its creation in 2013, including the UM Composting Project.

The Green Fund has funded nine projects since its launch in 2013, including the UM Composting Project.

During fall 2014, the University of Mississippi Green Fund Committee received a record number of project proposals from students, faculty and staff. After careful consideration following the presentations given at the public hearing, the committee awarded $11,580 to fund five projects. The funded projects are:

The Law School Student Body (LSSB) received funding to install a hydration station in the Robert C. Khayat Law Center to promote the use of reusable bottles by students, faculty, staff, and visiting alumni. Proposed by Tre’ Dekle, LSSB president

The biology department will partner with UM Landscape Services to introduce native plant species at the intersection between Jackson Avenue and Fraternity Row in fall 2015 to raise awareness and biodiversity on campus. Proposed by Jason Hoeksema and Ann Rasmussen

The Sports Nutrition Department will receive partial funding for a cargo bike. This project is a pilot bike-share project that aims to improve the University’s greenhouse gas inventory by offering a more sustainable form of transportation while also providing its users with an easy way to incorporate physical exercise into their everyday tasks. Proposed by Melinda Valliant

Two groups of Ty Allushuski’s EDHE 305 students will receive funding for their Green Fund proposal submissions:

UM will become the first state university to install a solar-powered charging station on its campus. Proposed by Michael Thweatt, Daisey Martinez, Makenzie Heard, Mac Kane, and Cody Friga

Finally, the Residential College South will soon be installing faucet aerators in an effort to promote awareness and increase the practice of water conservation. Proposed by Kayla Carter and Katie Grantham

The UM Green Fund Committee is accepting project proposals for the spring through March 18, 2015. The fund operates on a baseline contribution of $7,500 per semester from the university, as well as donations from students, faculty and staff. Click here to make a donation.

 

UM Named ‘Tree Campus USA’

Arbor Day Foundation recognizes UM's efforts to protect trees, educate campus community

Jeff McManus and Denise Hill worked for the past year to apply for Tree Campus USA status.

Jeff McManus and Denise Hill worked for the past year to apply for Tree Campus USA status. Photo by Grace Sullivan

The Arbor Day Foundation recently named the University of Mississippi a “Tree Campus USA,” thanks largely to the work of Landscape Services. The designation recognizes UM for meeting high standards of protecting trees and educating community members.

“Anytime you get anything like this it’s a recognition of the work that’s already being done,” said Jeff McManus, director of Landscape Services. “A lot of campuses aren’t fortunate enough to have even the awareness we do; it really helps people become sensitive to the effect trees have on any culture.”

McManus and UM Superintendent of Landscape Services Denise Hill have been working to apply for the designation for the past year. To earn Tree Campus USA status, the university had to meet five standards including gathering a campus tree advisory committee, developing a campus tree care plan, establishing a campus tree program with dedicated annual expenditures, publicly observing Arbor Day and offering a tree-related service learning project.

At this point, the campus has met these standards and beyond. According to Hill, all of these criteria were ways that Landscape Services could protect the campus trees. For Hill, the presence of trees defines a campus.

“It’s amazing to go to a campus of a university and see beautiful architecture and beautiful structures, but when they’re devoid of trees, you really don’t notice the architectural aspects of the campus grounds as much,” Hill said. “We’re blessed with having a naturally beautiful campus and we like to keep it that way.”

Looking beyond the physical, McManus believes that trees are crucial indicators of campus life.

“When you see a healthy, vigorous tree growing, you perceive that it’s a healthy campus, that our community is healthy,” McManus said. “And just the opposite is true. When you see a tree that’s dying or dead you perceive just the opposite.”

Now that the university is a Tree Campus USA, Hill and McManus look forward to educational opportunities as awareness grows.

“Just yesterday we had a group that came to us and wanted to do a service project, and through that project they’re learning and we’re out there with them teaching,” Hill said.

Moving forward, Landscape Services continues to protect the campus tree scene in the face of increased construction and a growing community. The department uses a simple formula for replanting trees after construction and restricts other damage through practices like fencing off trees and prohibiting the use of hammocks on campus trees.

To learn more about trees on the UM campus, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/landscape/.

Green Grove Initiative Needs Faculty and Staff Help!

Volunteers needed to sort recycling Dec. 1, Dec. 2 at Oxford Recycling Center

Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss CommunicationsWith the end of the semester just around the corner, the Office of Sustainability is seeking faculty and staff volunteers to help sort game day recycling from the Egg Bowl to give students time to prepare for final exams.

Volunteers are needed on Monday, December 1 and Tuesday, December 2 from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. at the Oxford Recycling Center. (Faculty and staff are welcome to stay for as long as their schedule allows.) Volunteers sort out aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and Solo cups, while disposing of the non-recyclable material. All faculty and staff volunteers will receive a free Green Grove t-shirt. Click here to sign up, or e-mail green@olemiss.edu.

So far this semester, more than 400 student volunteers have helped recycle six tons of aluminum cans and plastic bottles, either by volunteering to pass out recycling bags in the Grove or sorting recycling post-game day.  Additionally, the Green Grove Initiative has recycled 15,000 Solo cups through the university’s partnership with TerraCycle, a 133 percent increase since last year.

To learn more about the Green Grove Initiative, visit green.olemiss.edu.