The Missouri State University Long-Range Plan (Imagining and Making Missouri's Future webpage) identifies 11 benchmark institutions that the University uses to compare performance measures. A brief survey of sustainability activity at some of these institutions reveals a very high level of commitment to the practice and promotion of sustainability at the institutional level. In all cases, institutional structures, programs or activities are complemented by a whole series of student-driven volunteer initiatives which depend on the institutional structure for coherence. Examples of institutional commitment to sustainability at the Missouri State University benchmark universities are as follows:
- Ball State University has offices, officials, websites and programs that deal specifically with sustainability and how to foster it in the university community. In addition, Ball State University has a university-wide sustainability statement and many community programs that promote sustainability (Ball State University Sustainability webpage).
- Grand Valley State University has offices, programs and initiatives that are specifically dedicated to sustainability (Grand Valley State University Sustainability webpage).
- The University of Montana has similar programs, and has signed the Talloires Declaration on sustainability (Greening UM webpage).
- Illinois State University had a university environmental task force in 2001 that recommended, among other things, the signing of the Talloires Declaration (to date, ISU has not signed the Declaration), the establishment of a campus sustainability website, the performance of regular environmental audits and the awarding of a prize for environmental sustainability on campus (Illinois State University Green Team webpage).
- James Madison University has a Center for Energy and Environmental Sustainability in addition to other activities in support of sustainability (Center for Energy and Environmental Sustainability webpage).
- The University of North Carolina- Charlotte sponsors the Keep Charlotte Green partnership of on- and off-campus stakeholders to promote sustainability, has a multi-page website, operates electric vehicles on campus, students recently approved a referendum to seek a fee increase for ‘green’ projects, Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling, publish a Sustainability Newsletter (UNCC Keep Charlotte Green website).
- The University of Texas-Arlington has a university-wide President’s Sustainability Committee that monitors and promotes sustainability on campus (UTA Sustainability webpage).
- The University of Northern Iowa has a Recycling and Reuse Technology Transfer Center that promotes recycling and other sustainability initiatives (UNI Sustainability webpage). They have also formed an Energy Conservation Committee charged with identifying and recommending strategies to enhance environmental awareness and energy conservation efforts on campus (UNI Energy Awareness website).
- Towson University has a whole set of "Go Green" programs which serve as the platform for university-wide sustainability activities (Towson "Go Green" webpage).
Five of these institutions (Ball State, Grand Valley, University of Montana, James Madison, and Towson University) have signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).
It is clear from the survey that a majority of our chosen benchmark institutions are exhibiting a real commitment to environmental sustainability, and that Missouri State University can benefit from the ideas generated and lessons learned by these institutions to accelerate the implementation of proven sustainability practices. Copies of website information for some of these universities are attached in Appendix A.
Closer to home, Drury University in Springfield has appointed a Sustainability Coordinator at the university, has signed the ACUPCC, and recently devoted an entire convocation series to the theme of sustainability.