Institutions Seek ‘Healthier, Cleaner’ Communities

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Four area institutions have formed a partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency to promote environmental sustainability on their campuses and beyond.

South Carolina State University Interim President Dr. Cynthia Warrick, who has a doctorate in environmental science and policy, said the partnership will make the region “a healthier and cleaner place to live.”

The presidents of S.C. State, Claflin University, Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College and Aiken Technical College met with Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming, administrator of EPA Region 4, at S.C. State on Wednesday and signed a memorandum of understanding to form an environmental sustainability working group.

Not only will the schools collaborate in research, teaching and various projects, their students will have internship opportunities with the EPA, Warrick said. The schools could also get grants for environmental projects in the community.

Each institution is already working on various environmentally friendly programs. Officials say sharing their areas of expertise will benefit the community.

Warrick said S.C. State’s degree program in nuclear engineering offers a cleaner form of energy.

Also, “We’ve just developed a sustainability forum here on campus. Through that we’re going to green our campus,” she said. The university is also going to build a curriculum to train students for jobs in the area of sustainability.

Claflin already has a number of sustainability programs in place, according to President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale.

“I appointed a sustainability task force at Claflin last year,” he said. Additionally, Tisdale signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment last year.

He said Claflin has a great program in alternative fuels that he will share with the other institutions.

“On the other hand, almost all of them are involved in nuclear energy. We would like to look at joining the other institutions in programs that they have in nuclear education,” he said.

Tisdale said he wants to see students get involved in sustainability projects and initiatives they can take beyond the campuses and into the community.

OCtech President Dr. Walt A. Tobin said that he sees sustainability as “making good use of our resources, making sure that we’re environmentally conscious when we look at the things we do and the programs we offer.”

The college has an alternative energy program that trains students to install devices like solar panels and wind turbines, as well as monitor energy output.

One of OCtech’s strengths is training students to be conscious of the need to sustain the environment, he said.

“As we look at things like solar energy and other alternatives, we also have a responsibility to students to diagnose how to become more effective,” Tobin said.

Fleming said that each school will choose its own sustainability projects. The EPA will offer aid in various ways, including traditional internships and shadowing opportunities.

If they choose to carry out projects in the community, the EPA will help, she said.

“We will also give them aid with greening of the campuses,” Fleming said.