USM involved in month-long sustainability event


The University of Southern Mississippi’s Office of Sustainability will host numerous events on campus for Sustainability Month in October.

This international month-long celebration encourages universities worldwide to contribute to sustainability in higher education, according to The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education(AASHE). More than 755 universities and business partners across the globe – from Mississippi to New Zealand – hold memberships with AASHE.

Physical Plant Assistant Director of Sustainability Haley McMinn-Young said Southern Miss is a member of AASHE.

“AASHE operates as a resource and professional development depot for higher education faculty, administrators, staff and students,” McMinn-Young said.

McMinn-Young said Sustainability Month is a concentrated programming month for the Office of Sustainability.

On Oct. 4 The Office of Sustainability will host a Climate Change Panel in Thad Cochran Center 216 at 6:30 p.m.

Chair of the Department of Geography and Geology Mark Puckett, Emeritus Professor of Economics Mark Klinedinst, College of Arts and Letters associate professor Will Watson and USM alumnus Bill Curtis of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby will lead the panel.

McMinn-Young said Sustainability Month’s kick-off event will be the climate change panel.

“This panel will include 4 panelists with a variety of expertise and backgrounds,” McMinn-Young said. “Our goal with this event is simply to foster a conversation that seriously considers the impact of climate change.”

“Much like Earth Week in April, we program on a myriad of topics related to sustainability and the triple bottom line,” McMinn-Young said. “It’s important that we do programming throughout the year that continues to educate the campus and community.”

McMinn-Young encourages students to attend the upcoming events in October.

“There will also be a few volunteer opportunities to help with the implementation of events,”McMinn- Young said.

President of the Sustainability Advocates and sophomore computer engineering technology major Gabriel Ultvlugt said the Sustainability Advocates will participate in most of the events.

“We will be aiding the office of sustainability wherever we are needed,” Ultvlugt said. “A large part of what we do is try to educate our peers about the importance of sustainable living through tabling events, coordination with the office of sustainability and some events of our own.”

McMinn-Young said the Sustainability Advocates is a student organization that is in its fifth year.

“They support sustainability initiatives on campus and work to bring awareness to all campus constituents regarding sustainability issues,” McMinn-Young said.

“The Sustainability Advocates and the Southern Miss chapter of the United States Green Building Council are the two I know of [on campus].” Ultvlugt said. “Students can also participate in the Adopt-A-Spot program to help keep campus litter-free.”

In 2008, former university president Martha Saunders signed American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which committed the university to sustainability.

McMinn said the signing of the President’s Climate Commitment set into motion a number of accepted university responsibilities.

“The biggest part of this commitment is the designation of a climate neutrality date, McMinn-Young said. “In our Climate Action Plan, Southern Miss has committed to reaching climate neutrality by 2050.”

McMinn-Young said campus sustainability is important that Southern Miss continue to strive to be a sustainable institution.

“[It is important] that we meet this commitment, are able to stay viable as climate change challenges arise and are able to educate students to lead sustainable lives in their own respect,” McMinn Young said. “This long term change, through education of our people, is where the largest positive impact on our environment can come from.”

Ultvlugt said sustainability on campus is important because it serves a larger purpose of sustainability in the environment.

“Our campus is, in my opinion, a very beautiful place,” Ultvlugt said. “I want to preserve that. On a larger scale though, sustainability on campus is important because of the opportunity it presents to get others excited about preserving our environment as a whole.”

For more information regarding the Office of Sustainability or the Sustainability Advocates, visit its website at