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

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

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

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

UM Receives Honorable Mention as Bicycle Friendly University

National designation recognizes achievements; helps lay foundation for improvements


The University of Mississippi received an honorable mention as a Bicycle Friendly University earlier this week from the League of American Bicyclists.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has been recognized for its efforts to support and improve cycling on campus with an honorable mention nod as a Bicycle Friendly University from the League of American Bicyclists.

Ole Miss is the first university in the state to receive this designation.

“The designation recognizes that we are making an effort to improve the culture of biking on campus,” said Sara Douglass, post-baccalaureate fellow in the UM Office of Sustainability who is focusing on biking as part of her yearlong fellowship. “We’re looking forward to receiving feedback from the League of American Bicyclists about how to further these improvements.”

Recent efforts on the UM campus include the opening of the newly renovated, full-service Ole Miss Bike Shop, which offers repairs and maintenance for cyclists by a fulltime bike mechanic, and the expansion of the Rebel Pedals Bike Share program, through which students, faculty and staff can rent bicycles for $25 a semester. The bike share fleet will expand this semester from 100 bicycles, all of which are rented, to 175 bikes.

“We have a waiting list for those who want bikes,” said Mike Harris, UM director of parking and transportation. “That demand is there, and we want to meet it.”

Twenty-five new bicycles will also be distributed to campus departments as part of the university’s wellness initiative, RebelWell, to promote the use of bikes among faculty and staff during the workday.

Moving forward, education for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists will be a focus of the university’s biking efforts, Harris said.

The Bicycle Friendly University program, a branch of Bicycle Friendly America, evaluates universities in five areas: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation and planning. Universities that receive the Bicycle Friendly designation can earn honorable mention, bronze, silver, gold or platinum status. The League of American Bicyclists then provides feedback to help universities reach higher status in the program.

“Going through the process helps us identify our relative strengths and weaknesses when it comes to being a bike-friendly university,” said UM assistant professor of psychology Kate Kellum, a member of the working group that applied for BFU status and member of the Oxford Pathways Commission. “I think it’s also important to celebrate some of the successes that we’ve had on campus and in town in improving bike availability.”

To learn more about biking at UM, visit

UM, Oxford to Celebrate Food Day

Oct. 16 celebration to feature on-campus farmers market, festival and panel discussion

2013 Food Day Farmers Market and Festival

2013 Food Day Farmers Market and Festival

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi and Oxford community will observe Food Day – a nationwide movement toward healthy, affordable and sustainable food – Thursday (Oct. 16) with a festival and panel discussion.

The Food Day Farmers Market and Festival is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the Student Union. Following the festival, student leaders will gather to speak about “The State of Food at UM,” a panel discussion focused on student-led initiatives, at 5:30 p.m. in the Overby Center Auditorium. Both events are free and open to the public.

“Food Day is about opening a dialogue and raising awareness about food-related issues,” said Lindsey Abernathy, project coordinator in the Office of Sustainability. “But, it’s also about celebrating what we are doing right by highlighting local, real food and the people behind that food and those initiatives.”

The Food Day Festival and Farmers Market will focus on local food and will feature a mobile farm bus, farmers selling local produce, free food samples and educational displays by campus and community groups including the UM Food Bank, Real Food Rebels, Oxford Community Garden, Good Food for Oxford Schools and more.

At 11 a.m., Blue Cross Blue Shield Chef Labron Alexander will conduct a healthy cooking demonstration as part of the university wellness program, RebelWell. Alexander will demo a ginger-kale smoothie, oven-baked chicken and sweet potato hummus. Samples will be available.

“The State of Food at UM” panel will be moderated by Catarina Passidomo, assistant professor of Southern studies and anthropology, and will feature short talks from Chancellor Dan Jones; Jillian Cowart of Real Food Rebels; Christine Dickason of the UM Food Bank; Katelynn Dillard of the Office of Sustainability, Oxford City Market and Good Food for Oxford Schools; Kendall McDonald of the Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network; and Dottie Reid of Oxford High School.

“I think it’s important to have a better understanding of where the food that we eat comes from and the people involved in that production,” Passidomo said. “Students in particular are at a good point in their lives to become engaged and to feel empowered to make a changes and I think that this is one area where they can set really specific goals. I hope the panel is something that students come to and feel inspired by and feel like they have new information about ways to get involved to make difference. “

The Food Day celebration at UM kicked off Oct. 8 with a screening of the documentary “Fed Up,” which chronicles the rise of the processed food industry in the United States and the health implications related to processed, sugary foods.

For more information about Food Day events, email or contact Lindsey Abernathy at 662-915-3442.

UM, Oxford to Celebrate Food Day Oct. 16

Festival to feature market, cooking demonstration, mobile farm bus and more

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss CommunicationsThe University of Mississippi Student Union Plaza will transform into an on-campus farmers’ market and festival on Thursday, Oct. 16 as part of the fourth annual Food Day celebration, a nationwide celebration and movement toward healthy, affordable and sustainable food.

The Food Day Farmers’ Market and Festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is free and open to the public. The event features a mobile farm bus, farmers selling local produce and educational displays by campus and community groups including the UM Food Bank, Real Food Rebels, the Oxford Community Garden, Good Food For Oxford Schools and others.

During the festival, Blue Cross, Blue Shield chef Labron Alexander will perform a healthy cooking demonstration as part of the university’s new wellness program, RebelWell.

Campus Food Day events also include a screening of “Fed Up” on Oct. 8 at 5:30 p.m. in the Overby Center Auditorium.  Following the festival on Oct. 16, students will discuss “The State of the Food at UM,” during a panel discussion in the Overby Center Auditorium from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

For more information about Food Day events, e-mail or contact Lindsey Abernathy at 662-915-3442.


Panel discussion to focus on “The State of Food at UM”

Photo by Kevin Bain.  OverbyAs part of the Food Day celebration, the University of Mississippi is hosting a student discussion panel on Thursday, Oct. 16 from 5:30–6:30 p.m. in the Overby Center Audtiorium. “The State of Food at UM” discussion will be led by Catarina Townes, Assistant Professor of Southern Studies and Anthropology, and will feature short talks from Chancellor Dan Jones, several UM students and an Oxford High School student.

The panel will offer insight to university and community members about the current state of local food. The student speakers are individuals heavily involved in food issues and bringing positive change to the local community.

This year’s panel will include Christine Dickason of UM Food Bank, Katelynn Dillard of the Office of Sustainability, Jillian Cowart of Real Food Rebels, Kendall McDonald of Mississippi Sustainable Agricultural Network, and Dottie Reed of Good Food for Oxford Schools. Through this panel, participating groups aim to educate attendees about local food and strengthen a healthy food system within the Oxford community.