The 2008 Climate Leadership Summit of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment concluded its two days of meetings in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on June 6. Speaking at the closing luncheon, the chairman of the ACUPCC and president of Arizona State University, Michael M. Crowe did not tiptoe around the sensitive topic of membership.
Crowe congratulated the 550 colleges and universities whose presidents have already pledged to Climate Commitment on their campuses, while noting another 4,000 have not yet done so. This head of a major public university himself, Crowe interpreted the slowness of other academic CEOs to sign on as an indication that “most college presidents are cowards.” He urged his audience representing the schools of higher education who are members of the ACUPCC to do whatever they could to encourage the other heel-dragging presidents to join their coalition.
Crowe told his fellow ACUPCC colleagues that colleges and universities have an obligation to do more than “produce leaders…we have to lead ourselves.” Crowe stressed that all of their schools must teach their students about the necessity of climate neutrality “through what we do.”
“We need to make sustainable connections between buildings and nature, between people and the outside.”
Before the lunch began, one ACUPCC member from New England offered a spontaneous toast to Peter Wege for his visionary environmental thinking. John Lebica, Assistant Vice President for Facilities and Sustainability at Cape Cod Community College, saluted Wege as “somebody who has built such a strong foundation for all of us to add on to.”