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The Green, spring 2022

Earth Day: Investing in Our Future

Photo by Evan Krape

A message from President Dennis Assanis

Dear UD Community:

Today is Earth Day, a day when we all take a moment to reflect and recommit ourselves to the shared global goal for a better world — anchored by both actions and principles to help guide efforts supporting environmental protection, clean energy solutions, environmental justice, and much more — all with an ongoing, creative exchange of ideas surrounding these important issues that impact our planet.

Here at the University of Delaware, attention to sustainability as a critical priority means taking necessary steps today that will affect the future of our institution, and threading those measures through all aspects of our operations. We are very fortunate at UD to have a community that is defined by both values-driven passion and intellectual capacity to come together to transform meaningful change into a reality. Institutionally, our strategic plan underlines UD’s commitment to advance new initiatives to become a national leader in sustainability. From climate action planning to renewed education, research and innovation programs, we are actively working to improve sustainability across all operations, including academics, student life, research and community engagement.

Our campus is stepping up to make a difference. In particular, I want to acknowledge the efforts of our UD Sustainability Council, comprising faculty, staff, students and administrators, who recently prepared recommendations for sustainable improvements to consider across several categories: education, energy and transportation, investment and finance, food and dining, justice, equity and inclusion, landscaping, waste and water. I look forward to working with the Council to realize progress towards our goals. In line with this interest, several of you may have heard me reinforce our commitment to sustainability at recent meetings with UD faculty and the Board of Trustees.

Actions will include:

  • Expanding interdisciplinary degree programs that leverage sustainability expertise at UD to attract a high quality and diverse student body
  • Promoting interdisciplinary clustered research, academics and outreach in sustainability to develop new technologies and build strategies and approaches to address those challenges and train a new generation of leaders
  • Reducing carbon footprint and operational costs by implementing conservation measures, renewable sources of energy, waste recycling, etc.
  • Increasing external investment through philanthropy and industry and government partnerships to advance sustainable innovation
  • Improving sustainability achievements relative to peer institutions

We are also committed to establish a new Office of Sustainability and the Environment in order to advance sustainability initiatives across the University, with a goal of having this in place by the start of the new academic year. I look forward to monitoring the progress of this office with expectations for ongoing collaboration among many UD students, faculty and staff as we collectively and creatively find ways to align thoughtful sustainability planning for meaningful and impactful outcomes for student engagement, operational efficiency, and environmental conservation.

On a programming note, I hope you will be able to attend the first annual Presidential Symposium and Teach-In on Climate Change and Sustainability on Monday, May 9, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in 103 Gore Hall. This will feature five UD faculty and staff panels focused on a range of relevant topics for the UD community.

As a land grant, sea grant and space grant university, UD has always represented an institutional investment in the next generation of people, progress and planet. We have the longest continuously operating solar research institute in the world and some of our centers and institutes actively focus on the environment, renewable energy, climate science and policy, the upcycling of plastics, sustainable agriculture, wildlife conservation and so much more. While Earth Day is celebrated around the world, I want to reinforce its meaning for our community here in Delaware and beyond. Each and every one of us has the opportunity to make a difference — both as individuals and as partners.

Happy Earth Day to all of our Blue Hens as we invest together in a more sustainable future!


Dennis Assanis

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