Three Decades of Higher Education Excellence Through Collaboration
Sustainability Conferences are held annually for faculty, administration, and sponsors to meet to share ideas.
The inaugural 2010 SMHEC Sustainability Conference, held at Moraine Valley Community College, assisted each institution with a holistic approach to planning, goal setting and creating an individualized framework for developing and implementing a strategic plan for sustainability.
The highlight of the event was SMHEC Presidents or their representatives signing the Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact. By signing this compact together, the institutions made themselves accountable to completing certain tasks that will work toward measuring improvements and integrating sustainability in campus operations, academic and research programs, student activities, and community outreach. Every institution signed to one of three levels—gold, silver or bronze—each with a different number of tasks to complete.
Dr. Mary Spilde, president of Lane Community College in Eugene Oregon, and a nationally respected authority on sustainability was the dinner keynote speaker. Ray Rieck, Vice President for Business Services at Lake Land Community College spoke about the energy and cost saving associated with sustainability efforts during his lunch keynote presentation.
The 2011 SMHEC Sustainability Conference was held at University of St. Francis and focused on the business case for sustainability, including why sustainability savvy graduates are more employable. Keynote speaker George Bandy, Vice President of Sustainability at InterfaceFlor addressed the importance of sustainability coursework in a graduates portfolio.
Panelists James Holland, mayor of Frankfort, Illinois, Christopher Williams, owner of Millennium Solar Electric, Mark Bouman, visiting scholar at the Field Museum and Darryl Denham, Key Account Business Manager at Xerox shared why they chose to move their organizations toward sustainability and why sustainability is important to students and the colleges and universities.
Breakout sessions focused on community-of-peer sessions to share and institutional sessions for each school to assess its first year's progress.
The 2012 SMHEC Sustainability Conference – Continuing the Journey was held at Lewis University’s new LEED-Silver Science Center on October 5, 2012. During this conference each of the institutions was recognized for being at a different point in their sustainability journey and celebrated as they continue on that journey. Lois Vitt Sale, Chief Sustainability Officer of Wight Corporation, was the featured breakfast keynote speaker. She discussed sustainability as more than an environmental movement and defined how those who do not see themselves as environmentalists can engage in sustainability. John Dunsing, Environmental Sustainability Manager of Jewel Foods talked about the future of waste minimization and discussed ways Jewel has turned waste into a profit center. Gold Sponsor, Sodexo, created sustainable meals using local foods and including vegan, gluten free and organic options. Waste Management, also a sponsor, worked with Sodexo and Lewis University staff to make this a Zero Waste event.
Presidents John Avendano of Kankakee Community College, Br. James Gaffney of Lewis University, Don Manning of South Suburban College and Michael Vinciguerra of the University of St. Francis participated in a panel discussing their views on the importance of sustainability. Dr. Eric Radtke of Prairie State College facilitated the panel.
Breakout sessions for community of peers and institutional teams rounded out the program. The conference ended with tours of the campus and Green Drinks.
Over 140 people attended the 2013 SMHEC Sustainability Conference held October 18th at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Hermann Hall. This was the first conference open to interested parties outside SMHEC, and 26 people from outside organizations attended. The theme of the event was “Sustainability Connects Us All”. Several breakout sessions provided examples of how higher education and local entities partnered to create programs and take action. Lewis University spoke of their participation in efforts to protect the Hine’s emerald dragonfly in their area. Administrators from Homewood and Flossmoor spoke about how they created an inter-governmental effort to coordinate and share efforts and resources around sustainability in their communities. The event also included sessions about smart grid innovations and getting students involved in sustainability efforts.
Keynote speaker Dan Schnitzer, Director of Sustainability and Operations at the Academy for Global Citizenship charter school on Chicago's Southwest Side, spoke of his school's commitment to foster environmental stewardship in the curriculum as well as by how they operate the school. He also spoke of their efforts to redefine and reframe grade school education.