Minority-Serving Institutions Championing the ACUPCC

February 7, 2012

By Ashka Naik, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Development, Second Nature

(This article appears in the February, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

This article is based on a chapter in the forthcoming publication, UNCF Sustainable Campuses: Building Green at Minority Serving Institutions. It will be available in April 2012 on the Kyoto Publishing website as well as at http://buildinggreennetwork.org/.

To level the playing field by bridging the resource gap between wealthy and under-resourced institutions, and to enable more institutions to commit to and implement the ACUPCC, Second Nature is proactively developing innovative programs that enhance the sustainability capacity of under-resourced institutions. Second Nature has also partnered with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) on the “UNCF Building Green at Minority-Serving Institutions” initiative, and provided guidance on UNCF’s sustainability efforts for the past two years to actively engage minority-serving institutions in this sustainability movement.

Second Nature and UNCF

“Environmental sustainability is a critical part of operating every college and a critical part of the education a 21st-century college provides for its students. Second Nature has been an invaluable thought partner in helping UNCF, its member historically black colleges and universities, and all minority-serving institutions make sustainability not just an ideal but a day-to-day reality. UNCF’s partnership with Second Nature has fostered a re-imagination of how minority-serving institutions relate to our environment and what we are capable of doing together to assure a safer, greener and cleaner planet.”

– Michael L. Lomax, President and CEO, UNCF

With the assistance of such collaborative capacity-building opportunities and the framework offered through the ACUPCC model, 89 minority-serving institutions — including two college districts — have made deep commitments to climate neutrality by signing the ACUPCC in the recent years. By providing the needed momentum and network, the ACUPCC assists these institutions in pursuing climate neutrality, galvanizing the campus community, reducing costs, and opening up new opportunities for funding, education, research and community engagement.

In the past two years, presidents of 20 minority-serving institutions have signed the ACUPCC and committed their institutions to climate action!

Success stories of the ACUPCC’ signatory minority-serving institutions

Despite the barriers — such as smaller endowments, limited peer-to-peer knowledge exchange, and inadequate in-house expertise — these institutions are marching forward and making sustainability an integral part of their development and planning priorities. For their exemplary efforts vis-à-vis sustainability, several of the ACUPCC signatory minority-serving institutions, e.g., The College of Menominee Nation, Delaware State University, Elizabeth City State University, Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, Morehouse College, Spelman College, United Tribes Technical College and Voorhees College, have also been awarded green technical assistance grants by Second Nature, UNCF and various federal agencies.

With their strong commitment to and continuing practice of sustainability, these institutions will help train and educate students of diverse socio-cultural backgrounds to become sustainability-aware professionals and global citizens, and also set superior standards for environmental and social equity for future generations.

Here are a few stellar examples of the “green journey” undertaken by four of the minority-serving institutions that have recently signed the ACUPCC:

  • Elizabeth City State University (ESCU) — Chancellor Willie Gilchrist signed the Commitment for ESCU on May 25, 2010 as a result of the collaborative work of this historically black university, UNCF and Second Nature. To kick off campus sustainability efforts, the institution was selected as the winner of Home Depot’s $50,000 ”Retool Your School” grant contest. The grant was offered to help upgrade ESCU’s athletic facilities and create a new sustainable baseball field.[1]
  • Spelman College — Under President Beverly Daniel Tatum’s leadership, as well as with senior management’s determination, this historically black college has been successfully transforming its campus into a sustainable community for the past few years. Dr. Tatum signed the Commitment for Spelman College on August 25, 2010. In 2008, Spelman completed its first LEED® Silver building with the construction of “The Suites” residential hall. This project is significant not only because it is the first construction to take place on Spelman’s campus in the 21st century, but also because it is the first LEED®-certified building at any historically black college and university in the country.[2]
  • United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) — By signing the Commitment on July 23, 2010, President David Gipp reinforced UTTC’s commitment to sustainability and climate action. Mr. Curtis Maynard, Facility Manager with UTTC, played a pivotal role in this process as he diligently worked to convene campus stakeholders as well as propel campus-wide greening actions.  Second Nature awarded Mr. Maynard the 2009 Kresge Fellowship Award, enabling him to attend networking and educational events focused on campus sustainability.[3]
  • Clark Atlanta University (CAU) — As a historically black university and the largest of UNCF’s 39 member institutions, CAU made a powerful commitment to sustainability when President Carlton Brown ceremoniously signed the Commitment on February 22, 2011. With the collaborative activities among the Atlanta University Center Consortium institutions[4] and exceptional on-campus leadership, CAU is advancing toward its sustainability goals in leaps and bounds.

These exemplify that without such a diverse coalition, higher education will not be able to bring about the transformation needed to ensure a safe and sustainable future. As institutions charged with educating students of diverse socio-economic backgrounds to become responsible citizens, minority-serving institutions play a pivotal role in advancing society toward holistic sustainability. Only with their dynamic leadership, long-term commitment and active participation can higher education lead the way to a sustainable future.


About the author

Ashka Naik, LEED AP, joined Second Nature in January 2009 as a program manager for the Advancing Green Building in Higher Education Initiative, and was promoted to Director of Strategic Initiatives and Development in August 2011. In her current role, Ashka directs various strategic initiatives that advance the institutional capacity of under-resourced and minority-serving institutions to commit to sustainability and climate neutrality. Before joining Second Nature, Ashka worked as project coordinator with the Harvard University’s Office for Sustainability. For the past 10 years, she has also worked extensively in India and the U.K. on various sustainability projects. Following her passion for sustainability issues in developing countries, she co-founded a sustainable design company (Artha Studio) in India in 2007 that leverages the field of architectural design to bridge the milieus of environmental justice and the built environment.  Ashka received her master’s degree in Product Design, with the focus on sustainable design, from the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (U.K.) and her bachelor’s degree in Interior Architecture from the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology (India).

[1] Elizabeth City State University. Available fromhttp://www.ecsu.edu/ia/urm/headline.cfm?ID=11415 (accessed 15 April, 2011)

[2] Spelman College-Green Initiatives. Available fromhttp://www.spelman.edu/administration/business/fms/greenbuilding.shtml (accessed 15 April, 2011)

[3] Campus Green Builder – Kresge Fellowship Program. Available fromhttp://campusgreenbuilder.org/KresgeFellowships#meet2009fellows (accessed 15 April, 2011)

[4] Atlanta University Center Consortium, Inc. Available fromhttp://www.aucenter.edu/ (accessed 15 April, 2011)

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