Environment Texas has again recognized Austin College for its commitment to renewable energy. The group recently released a report that lists Austin College as one of more than 40 colleges and universities around the country to achieve 100% renewable energy use for its electrical needs. In 2019, Environment America, Environment Texas’s parent organization, listed Austin College as second in the nation for renewable electricity use per full-time student.
“We appreciate Environment Texas’s recognition of our environmental efforts,” said Austin College President Steven O’Day. “At Austin College, we seek to take any affordable measures to help safeguard the environment. Converting to wind-generated electricity has cost the college less than 5% of the savings from simultaneous energy conservation. We have discovered that buying wind power is among the easiest and most economical ways to achieve a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”
President O’Day said that student involvement in any environmental efforts is crucial. “Students propose advances in our environmental efforts and host educational events each year to enlist further engagement,” he said. Students also assist with the College’s Sneed Prairie Restoration, which received the 2020 Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Environmental Excellence Award in the Education category. Meanwhile, students receive College funding for world-class summer internships in environmental studies and other academic programs.
This recognition adds to an impressive list of environmental success stories at Austin College. In 2008, President Oscar Page signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (now known as the Second Nature Carbon Commitment). In 2011, President Marjorie Hass significantly enhanced the College’s environmental efforts by launching Austin College Thinking Green, an umbrella organization that encompasses all greening efforts across campus and unites faculty, staff, and students in support of a greener Austin College. Her tenure saw the opening of a LEED Gold-certified science building, the IDEA Center, in 2013. In April 2018, President Steven O’Day continued his predecessors’ legacies of environmental progress by signing Austin College’s first comprehensive Campus Sustainability Plan. The College has reduced its carbon emissions by nearly 45% since 2008 despite its growing campus.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 50 percent of students identifying as persons of color. The residential student body of approximately 1,300 students and more than 100 expert faculty members allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. Related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA), Austin College cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. The College, founded in 1849, is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.