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This content was published: September 6, 2010. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.

District In-Service goes green

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Portland Community College will kick-off the 2010-11 academic year for employees with a District In-Service that features one of the leading sustainability leaders in the nation.

Rusty Stephens, president of Wilson Community College in North Carolina.

Rusty Stephens, president of Wilson Community College in North Carolina, will be In-Service’s keynote speaker. He first focused on sustainability when he worked at a campus located in a major strip-mining region of America and saw the resulting environmental devastation. Stephens said he became convinced that sustainable thinking was the way to go, echoing PCC’s own push to be more green.

“Everyone talks about sustainability, but one of the messages I hope you hear at this year’s In-Service celebration is that we walk the walk,” said PCC President Preston Pulliams. “You can see it in the way we have blended sustainable practices into the curriculum, from construction to hybrid vehicle repairs. You can see it in the Platinum LEED Standard that our new Willow Creek Center received. This year’s In-Service speaker is no stranger to the topic of sustainability. “

Stephens served 35 years in community colleges as an instructor, director, dean, vice president and has been president of Wilson Community College since 2003. There, he has overseen construction of a LEED Gold Standard building, retrofitted existing buildings to be greener and served on the Sustainability Task Force for the American Association of Community Colleges.

“Wilson Community College has made great progress in 2009 towards furthering sustainability on our campus and in our community,” Stephens said. “We are committed to the principles of sustainability and look forward to 2010 and making many more advances in our sustainable efforts.”

A scene from a past district in-service. Hundreds of staff convene at Sylvania for this event.

Stephens said the college’s new Student Services Center received LEED Gold certification in 2009, operating on one-third the energy used in a typical building of its size. Wilson CC also installed a rainwater collection system on the facility to be used for irrigation and non-potable water use.

“The building is serving as a demonstration of what a green building is in eastern North Carolina and we have had many visitors from around the state tour the building,” he said. “We have developed a weatherization training program, which is being used to train community action agency weatherization crew members throughout the state. In addition, we are in the process of developing a Greening Your Business program to educate local business about sustainability.”

At PCC, there are many parallels to Wilson CC. Both colleges have signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment and have created Climate Action Plans. Thanks to the 2008 bond measure, PCC is constructing green buildings like the Willow Creek Center. A Loop Program at Rock Creek and a new Learning Garden at Sylvania have illustrated the commitment that students and staff have to recycling waste and PCC’s new sustainability coordinator is looking to develop even more outreach initiatives.

“Certainly there are challenges to being a more environmentally friendly college, especially in a time when enrollment is up almost 20 percent over last year and our state funding has been cut repeatedly over two years,” Pulliams said. “But staff and faculty are up to meeting those challenges head-on.”

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, is the Interim Senior Director of Marketing & Communications at Portland Community College. A graduate of Portland State University, James has worked as a section e... more »