On Oct. 5, California State University, Northridge President Dianne F. Harrison joined a group of 10 university presidents in signing a pact as part of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), working in conjunction with the nonprofit organization Second Nature.
Taking place at Agnes Scott College in Georgia, the event helped to signal the need for universities across the country to make a Climate Commitment to improve sustainability and environmental consciousness on their respective campuses. Through this commitment, university presidents pledged to improve their institutions’ practices to reduce the emission of harmful greenhouse gases as well as adapting to a constantly changing climate, and how those changes can have an extreme impact on their particular regions.
After signing the pact, many of the campus leaders took turns speaking about this initiative. Harrison focused her comments on a subject that shows the impact of the extreme lack of rainfall that has made water conservation so pervasive to Californians.
“In a large public institution that is very diverse, we see ourselves as sort of a living laboratory, engaging with our communities, and now being focused on, in our case, water issues,” Harrison said. “I see this new commitment as an opportunity to truly be leaders. We’re educating a very, very diverse population to be leaders on their own in their communities, and working with our communities to be able use our research, use our education, use our leadership in how we are going to adapt in a new age where there is not going to be as much water. And how do we deal with that? How do we get other campuses and universities to sign on?
“We all have a variety of networks that we operate in, and we all try to reach out to some of those networks, whether it’s for public institutions, or a research network, an education network, an athletic network; we’re looking at different ways to get people committed to this. I think it’s wonderful, the merging of these different commitments.”