Claflin University, along with three other institutions of higher learning in South Carolina, has formed a partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to create environmental sustainable campuses and further promote green causes to surrounding communities.
Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming, administrator of EPA Region 4, and the presidents from the four partnering institutions signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday, Dec. 5 to make the collaboration official. South Carolina State University, Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College and Aiken Technical College will partner with Claflin and the EPA in executing the agreement’s goals over the next three years.
President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale said addressing environment sustainability is a global issue and noted Claflin is dedicated to providing solutions.
“Environmental sustainability has become a primary focus as we position Claflin University among the world’s premier undergraduate teaching and research institutions. Through this collaboration, Claflin’s outstanding faculty and students are poised to be visionary leaders in protecting our environment for generations to come. I have no doubt this agreement will produce revolutionary research and most importantly jobs for our graduates,” said Tisdale.
Keyes Fleming noted this was a pivotal time for environmental leadership and stated her belief that this agreement applies a “win-win-win approach” for sustainability, environmental education, job creation and research collaboration.
“This is the beginning of great things for this city, these schools and this state,” she said.
Through this agreement, Claflin and the other schools will form what is called an Environmental Sustainability Working Group with an intention of developing sustainable college campuses and communities in the Midlands, Lowcountry and the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor of South Carolina.
The EPA and its educational partners will conduct joint research on issues impacting environmental sustainability, educate and foster community stewardship, promote careers in the field through internships and academic programs and the creation of a sustainable campus atmosphere at the four schools.
Claflin is already on the forefront on the issue through the implementation of its Environmental Sustainability Initiative which aims to reduce the University’s energy costs and carbon footprint. The Initiative’s multi-pronged approach includes campus-wide recycling, faculty and student education and green construction for new buildings, among other aspects.
In addition, Claflin’s research efforts have an environmental slant focusing on renewable energy sources such as biofuels and nuclear remediation.
This recently formed partnership is part of a national effort called the EPA Region 4 Environmental Science Partnership Program designed to develop a pool of culturally diverse and highly qualified graduates to address current and future environmental challenges.