Goal Four: institutional citizenry
Strengthen ties with external constituencies and promote opportunities for students by conducting ourselves in a manner befitting a good institutional citizen.
The college's annual economic impact on the Quad Cities rises every year, and currently exceeds $150 million. Economic growth is vastly important, especially in the current fiscal environment, and Augustana continues to identify ways in which it can have an impact on the community.
Among these are steps toward becoming more ecologically responsible. In last year's annual report, we identified three keys to the successful reduction of Augustana's environmental footprint, as formulated by the college's environmental action plan. This year we can highlight some of the many responses to those three challenges:
"The conversation about our stewardship, both individual and institutional, needs to take place across the college-in classrooms, offices and residence halls...."
Such conversations have led to multiple measurable actions across campus, and may be best illustrated by curricular opportunities. A popular two-course learning community- "Environmental Literature and Landscape," taught by geography professor Dr. Charlie Mahaffey and English professor Dr. Jason Peters-undertook a major project in 2007 that has continued to evolve this year. Known as the Local Culture House, the building was rehabilitated by students in the learning community according to green standards and utilizing green products, and now promotes an ecologically sound way of living for its student residents.
Furthermore, while the college has long included environmental foci within such majors as biology, geography and geology, in 2008 Augustana introduced environmental studies among its three new academic majors (along with anthropology and multimedia journalism).
"We must reduce our use of non-renewable resources and become accountable for all of our consumption...."
Since winning 2007 College Recycler of the Year honors from the Illinois Recycling Association, the campus community has been fortified in its efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle. Augustana's dining services director, Garry Griffith, has been instrumental in altering the college's dining culture toward a more ecologically sound model.
In 2008 he established the Farm-to-Fork program, forming partnerships with local farmers to offer fresh produce transported only a short distance to the campus community. Dining services uses takeout containers that are 98 percent compostable, and is planning a new composting program. It also donates used cooking oil that's processed into biodiesel fuel and used by local farmer Jim Johansen, who attended Augustana in the early 1970s. Johansen's organic farming operation, Wesley Acres Produce, expects to compost 35-50 tons of food waste per year through the partnership. Augustana's Garry Griffith hopes to convince some local schools to undertake similar efforts, and recently gave a presentation on Augustana's Farm-to-Fork and composting initiatives at the Earth Charter Summit in Davenport, Iowa.
"We must invest as a college and as individuals in technology and practices that reduce our consumption...."
Not only has the college invested in alternative-fuel campus vehicles (including our Global Electric Motorcar, or GEM, and hybrid cars), alternatives to cars are becoming more common. In 2008, the student organization Global Affect-spurred by the group's advisor, biology professor Dr. Jason Koontz-launched Project Pedal. This effort provided new mountain bikes to 15 first-year students who signed a pledge to leave their cars at home. Global Affect worked with Rock Island-based Royal Neighbors of America and the locally owned Bike & Hike bicycle shop for support for Project Pedal.
To promote the use of public transportation and reduce energy, Dr. Mark Vincent of the psychology department headed a partnership between the college and MetroLINK, the Illinois Quad-Cities bus transportation system that he himself uses daily. Through a one-year trial agreement, MetroLINK now provides unlimited rides to anyone on campus bearing a college ID. Both Project Pedal and the MetroLINK partnership won 2008 Thinking Outside the Car Awards from the Quad Cities Transportation Advocacy Group.
Whether regarding ecology, the economy, the recent election or expertise in any of a wide range of fields, the Quad-Cities media community regularly searches out the perspectives of Augustana faculty and students. Over a recent three-week period, the college's public relations director, Kamy Beattie, received 30-40 phone calls from reporters-more than 20 of which resulted in published articles or television interviews. Journalists say Augustana is one of the first places they look to for an expert, because they trust that they will find someone interesting and well informed who will add dimension to their story. The media also likes to talk with Augustana students to hear how the next generation is thinking and to get a young, educated point-of-view.