VOL. 125 | NO. 193 | Tuesday, October 5, 2010
U of M Goes Green With Environmental Fair
NICKY ROBERTSHAW HITCHING | Special to The Daily News
The University of Memphis is showing off its green stripes on campus Tuesday with its third annual environmental awareness fair.
Dubbed “Tiger Blue Goes Green,” the event will bring in campus and community groups offering information, displays, and even places to recycle cell phones and other items. All of this is intended to celebrate and publicize the university’s commitment to eco-friendly policies, with an emphasis on “green jobs.”
“This is a very visible way to showcase the university’s commitment to environmental responsibility,” said Dr. Marian Levy, associate professor of U of M’s Master of Public Health Program and associate director of the Center for Biofuel Energy & Sustainable Technologies.
The director of this interdisciplinary center is Dr. John Hochstein, professor and department chair of mechanical engineering at U of M Herff College of Engineering.
Levy attributed the university’s commitment to environmental responsibility, which began three to four years ago, to the leadership of U of M president Shirley Raines. The efforts have already paid off, landing the university earlier this year in the “Princeton Review Guide to 286 Green Colleges.”
Researchers for the guide found that environmental issues matter to prospective students and their parents if the colleges they are considering have an eco-friendly philosophy. In announcing its green guide, Princeton Review said it found that among 12,000 college applicants and parents it surveyed, 64 percent of them said that having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would impact their decision about applying to or attending a college.
These issues also matter to U of M students, who have agreed to tax themselves a $40 “green fee” per student. The proceeds are being used to fund this event and other efforts that include paid undergraduate green internships for spring 2011.
While green jobs are a focus of Tuesday’s event, it’s not always clear exactly what is considered a green job. Certainly, the definition includes a position making solar panels or other energy-saving products. However, working for an employer with environmentally sustainable policies generally counts as a green job, even if the job itself is being an accountant or receptionist.
So how is U of M doing, in terms of preparing students for green jobs?
“I’d say they’re just beginning, but then the whole movement is just beginning,” said Steven Sondheim, coordinator for the Memphis Green Jobs Task Force. He applauds what the university is doing to inspire students to adopt a green philosophy, which he sees as a major factor in steering them to green jobs.
“They’ve made a good start, but they have to do more,” he said.
It should be mentioned that some students are receiving the literal technical training at U of M necessary to clean up the environment and help save energy, particularly at the Herff College of Engineering.
Memphis Green Jobs Task Force, one of Tuesday’s exhibitors, was started this year as an offshoot of Tennessee Alliance for Progress green efforts. The aim of the local task force is to provide an opportunity for people in the green jobs arena to consolidate their efforts.
Tuesday’s eco-event, which in previous years operated under the less-catchy title Sustainable Technology Awareness Day, includes some 46 exhibitors.
Other exhibitors from the community include BRIDGES, Keep Tennessee Beautiful, Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division, the Sierra Club, Greater Memphis Greenline and Walk Bike Memphis. Also present are representatives of five corporations, including Sharp Manufacturing of America and Energy Systems Group, that are committed to green jobs.
Among the campus exhibitors are the U of M Physical Plant, which will display its cost-cutting building improvements, and the mechanical engineering department, which will showcase its biofuel micro-refinery.
Tiger Blue Goes Green takes place Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Student Plaza (rain location, Michael D. Rose Theatre), and begins with an introduction by Raines.