Bowie State University’s Partnership With The Toyota Green Initiative: A University’s Path Toward Sustainability

February 7, 2013

By Jacqueline J. Palmer, Facilities Coordinator, Bowie State University
(This article appears in the February, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

Bowie State University has undertaken several endeavors to go “green” and increase its sustainability through its Climate Control Commitment Committee (C4), not the least of which is its partnership with the Toyota Green Initiative to foster sustainable living and thinking among its students. The Toyota Green Initiative (TGI) is an environmental stewardship platform designed to empower Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) students and alumni on the benefits of adopting a sustainable lifestyle. The success of a Bowie State University and TGI partnership is predicated on both entities’ keen focus on a partnership supported by engaged leadership, which in turn will foster enhanced sustainability awareness at Bowie State University.

By its nature a sustainable lifestyle necessitates a change in mindset, thus the acceptance of sustainability practices as routine requires leadership intervention and engagement. Further, the partnership will be foundational for fostering green practices targeting students, faculty and staff at the university. It is within this vein that the launch of the TGI was held during the 2010 Homecoming at Bowie State University, the first stop in a cross-country HBCU tour through a partnership with the CIAA and the BET Black College Tour.

As with any institution, leaders must model the way for their followers. In this regard, Bowie State University President Mickey L. Burnim, and Dr. Karl Brockenbrough, Vice President for Administration and Finance, were on hand to welcome John Ridgeway, corporate manager of Toyota Financial Services, and participate in the ribbon-cutting ceremony opening the BSU greenhouse in December 2012. In addition to serving as a learning forum for BSU students specifically and the campus community generally, the greenhouse now serves as a conservatory for nurturing and cultivating flowers for future planting as part of the campus landscape.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was a precursor to a one day, fully immersive TGI event held at Bowie State University, President Burnim and his cabinet members were actively involved in the student-focused lecture series, recycling and other activities relating to sustainability as a way of life, and a greenhouse re-planting activity undertaken during the event. Student groups separated and replanted 87 day lilies and 16 irises, which will yield upward of 250 perennials in the spring for replanting as part of the campus landscape. The outcome of these efforts will serve to decrease the carbon footprint of the campus.

Student involvement in the TGI recycle portion of the event yielded upward of 7,000 pounds or over 3 tons of recyclable materials to include:

  • Plastic: 5,365 lbs.
  • Aluminum: 1,172 lbs.
  • Paper: 367 lbs.
  • Clothing: 21 lbs.
  • Glass: 267 lbs.

The TGI team reported that the recycle drive at Bowie State University resulted in the highest amount of items collected from any particular HBCU during our 2012 campus tour. The successful generation of recyclable material at Bowie State University is unsurprising given that the university has participated in the National Recyclemania competition for the past six years. In addition, the C4 committee, led by Dr. Brockenbrough, has been instrumental in staging Earth Day, Recycle Week, and lectures to move the Bowie State University community toward adopting sustainability as a way of life. These efforts, coupled with the burgeoning TGI partnership, are serving to foster purposefulness in attaining and sustaining green sensibility.