I was fortunate to join Mitch at a Freeport meeting of Maine college presidents last week that focused on sustainability efforts. The Maine Higher Education Council hosted their fall retreat at the Harraseeket Inn November 5th and 6th. The full schedule on Friday was given over to Leith Sharp — founding director of Harvard Green Campus Initiative — for a discussion of Strategic Leadership for Campus Sustainability and Energy Efficiency. A lot of great ideas came out of that meeting and a number of really useful resources (including the Green Building Resource site). It was great to see college leaders, campus sustainability staffers, and folks from the design community discussing sustainability from an organizational management perspective; going beyond sustainability demonstration projects to think carefully about deep integration of sustainability at Maine schools.
During a lunchtime breakout session for presidents, Unity’s Mitch Thomashow, with Tony Cortese and Georges Dyer of Second Nature, facilitated a discussion on Maine’s role in the sustainability movement. Maine’s 33 higher ed. institutions can operate as a pretty close bunch; public research universities, private liberal arts schools, and community colleges around Maine can engage in consortia and share information and resources in a way that would prove difficult for college networks in other regions. With nearly 75% of Maine’s students attending ACUPCC signatory schools, and with the support of Maine’s college leadership, we’re uniquely poised to take a leadership role in the higher education sustainability conversation.