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.



UM to Screen ‘Fed Up’ on Thursday, October 8

Fed Up DVD PosterThe Office of Sustainability is partnering with Students for a Green Campus, the Environmental Studies minor, the Student Dietetics Association, and Real Food Rebels to screen Fed Up, a documentary about the obesity epidemic in America. The free screening will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. in the Overby Center Auditorium.

Obesity is a serious health risk that threatens the lives of millions of Americans. According to the documentary, “over 95 percent of all Americans will be overweight or obese in two decades. By 2050, one out of every three Americans will have diabetes.” These are some of the major health concerns about processed food. Robert Lustig, professor of Pediatrics at the University of California San Francisco, explains “there are 600,000 food items in America. Eighty percent of them have added sugar.”

The Office of Sustainability is dedicating the month of October to celebrate real food and bring attention to local, regional, and national food issues. The Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard University explains how food is related to environmental sustainability:

“As individual consumers, and as employees in corporations, we make decisions every day about the food we buy, which gives us great power to reshape the way we produce, process, transport, and use food.”

Receive Funding for a Sustainability Project on Campus

Find out how you can support environmental sustainability at Ole Miss

Sydney Crimmins sells a water bottle to Forrest Gamble during Green Week.

Students sell water bottles as part of the UM Green Fund’s first project.

From submitting a project proposal to getting involved in existing projects as part of a class, there are multiple ways to support the Green Fund.

What is the UM Green Fund?

The University of Mississippi Green Fund is a pool of university funds combined with donations from the campus community. These funds are allocated to projects proposed by students, faculty, and staff, which are reviewed and selected each semester by the UM Green Fund Committee. The mission of the UM Green Fund is to raise awareness about the importance of environmental sustainability and to lower the environmental impact of the University of Mississippi. After a successful first year, the Green Fund is entering year two of funding sustainability projects on campus. The committee has approved three projects for the fall of 2014 and has appointed four new committee members for the 2014-2015 academic year.

How to Donate

Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to donate to the UM Green Fund. The Green Fund operates on an annual budget of $15,000 received from the university, and the committee seeks additional donations so that it may award more funding to projects. UM provides a 50 percent match for every dollar donated to the Green Fund by students. To donate with a credit or debit card, visit and click on the “Donate to UM Green Fund” tab located on the left side of the home screen. From there, you will be directed to enter your payment information and choose your donation amount.

Submitting Project Proposals

Any student, faculty or staff member can submit a project proposal to the UM Green Fund Committee. In the past, project proposals have been submitted by individuals, as well as by classes and departments. Once a project receives funding, student committee members will act as liaisons to help the project proposers with the project’s implementation. If you or your department is interested in submitting a project proposal, please email to receive further information or visit Project proposals for fall 2014 are due October 17.

Become a Member of the UM Green Fund Committee

The UM Green Fund Committee is comprised of six student committee members, two faculty committee members and two staff committee members. Students serve two-year commitments on the committee. If you are a student, faculty, or staff member and are interested in serving on the UM Green Fund Committee, visit or email to stay up to date on available committee positions.

Other Ways to Get Involved

Besides proposing projects with their classes, faculty members are encouraged to involve their classes with current projects including the Library E-Film projectcomposting project, or Flip-the-Switch project. Conducting an environmental impact analysis, a cost-benefit analysis or creating a communications campaign are just a few examples of ways instructors can engage their students through the UM Green Fund.

Green Fund Implements New Projects for Fall 2014

Projects include compost program expansion, energy-reduction initiatives

Compost-PosterThis semester, the UM Green Fund has provided funding to three campus projects including the expansion of the pilot composting program, which is projected to divert 36,000 pounds of pre-consumer food waste from the landfill during fall semester, and its first-ever initiatives targeting energy reduction.

Composting Project Expansion

The pilot composting program began in the fall 2013 and has expanded for the fall 2014. The UM composting team now picks up pre-consumer food waste from Rebel Market, in addition to the Marketplace at the Residential Colleges. This food waste is then brought to the Medicinal Plant Garden to be composted.

The project is headed by Victoria Burgos, a junior Parks and Recreation Management major from Olive Branch, Mississippi, who originally proposed the project in the spring 2013. Burgos oversees the composting project with the help of two Green Student interns in the Office of Sustainability. In its first year, her project composted nearly 6,000 pounds of pre-consumer food waste from the RC Marketplace, creating 19 cubic yards of compost. That compost is now being used by the RC Garden Club to plant their new on-campus garden. The composting team is projected to compost up to 36,000 pounds of food waste this year.

To evaluate the project, Green Fund Committee faculty member Dr. Cristiane Surbeck’s civil engineering class (CE 471) completed an Environmental Impact Analysis. The class concluded that over one year the project reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the RC Marketplace’s food waste by 1.25 equivalent kg of CO2 per pound of food waste composted. The net total of GHG emissions reduced was more than eight tons. The collaboration between the UM Green Fund and Dr. Surbeck’s class was a great opportunity to raise student awareness of environmental sustainability.

Energy Reduction Projects

The Green Fund has implemented its first-ever projects targeting energy reduction this fall. The projects, called the library window film project and the Flip-the-Switch project, will help to improve campus building efficiency, as well as engage students in energy conservation. The library window film project was proposed by J.D. Williams Library staff, and the Flip-the-Switch project was proposed by rising sophomore and UMGF Committee Member Joe Bell.

Library Window Film Project

Over the summer,  low-e film was installed on the south-facing windows on the second and third floors of the J.D. Williams Library. The film will block up to 57 percent of solar energy, reducing the need for air conditioning to cool the room, which results in annual electricity cost savings between 5 and 15 percent.

The film also helps better protect the library’s archives and special collections in the Faulkner Room from UV light. UV rays can damage sensitive materials including historical books and letters like those found in the Faulkner Room. Pre-energy data and UV light measurements have been recorded and will be compared to data recorded after film installation to determine electricity and cost savings. Since the installation of the low-e film, the staff members on the second floor are now able to keep their blinds open and take advantage of the office view while still remaining comfortable.

Flip-the-Switch Project

The Residential Colleges house the Flip-the-Switch project, which is geared toward lowering energy use in the residence halls. The Flip-the-Switch project is an awareness campaign targeting behavior changes. For this project, stickers have been placed above the light switches in residence hall rooms at the RCs to remind students to turn out their lights when they leave.

The stickers are unique to each floor in RC South, so no two floors have the same sticker. The fourth floor of RC South has no sticker, and serves as the control floor. The energy data collected will reflect the effectiveness of different messages and styles of the stickers. The Luckyday Residential College has the same sticker on all floors. The Flip-the-Switch project could help cut back on energy costs as well as serve as a model for future behavior change projects.

Past Green Fund Projects

Hydration Stations

During the 2013-2014 academic year, the UM Green Fund funded the installation of three hydration stations on campus. These stations provide access to cool, filtered water and encourage the reuse of  water bottles. To date, more than 84,967 water bottles have been refilled at the stations. They are located in Brevard, Faser and Holman. This project was proposed by Tristen Jackson, a graduate of the pharmacy school.

H2otty Toddy Water Bottles

The first project funded by the UM Green Fund was the H2otty Toddy water bottle project proposed by writing professor Milly West and her LIBA 102 writing class. The class wrote a proposal and received funding to sell reusable H2otty Toddy Water Bottles at the 2013 Sustainability Fair as a part of Green Week. The water bottles were sold to raise awareness of the waste created by non-reusable water bottles and to encourage the use of reusable water bottles. Water bottle sales totaled more than $2,000. The proceeds were put back into the Green Fund.

To learn more about the Green Fund, visit

Faculty and Staff engage students through UM Green Fund

green fund logo useThe UM Green Fund collaborates with faculty and staff to engage  students and utilize the campus as a living laboratory. This collaboration allows students to apply academic knowledge, stimulate interests, and sharpen critical thinking skills. In the past, the UM Green Fund has worked with:

Civil Engineering 471 – Instructor: Dr. Cristiane Surbeck

Dr. Surbeck’s CE 471 class conducted an environmental impact analysis for the first year of the pilot composting program. The composting program is a Green Fund project run by student interns and overseen by the Office of Sustainability.

Integrated Marketing Communications 555 – Instructor: Chris Sparks

Sparks collaborated with the Office of Sustainability to create a capstone project for her IMC 555 class. Students competed in teams to create an integrated communication campaign utilizing multiple forms of media and creative communications to reduce campus energy consumption by 10 percent.

LIBA 102, First Year Seminar – Instructor: Milly West

West’s LIBA 102 class drafted a Green Fund proposal to purchase “H20tty Toddy” water bottles and encourage the use of reusable bottles on campus. The students successfully presented their proposal at a public forum and their project received funding.

To learn more about engaging classes through UM Green Fund projects e-mail