Ursinus has been recognized by the Princeton Review for being a “Green School,” indicating that the college has taken the necessary steps to show a commitment to sustainability. In gaining this distinction, Ursinus now ranks as one of the top 375 colleges in the United States dedicated to reaching sustainability oriented goals.
“Every year, the Princeton review, a higher education ranking institution, ranks colleges on various different things,” explained Kate Keppen, a 2005 alumna and now the Director of Sustainability on campus.
Keppen added, “They ask us, ‘Do you have a sustainability program? Do you have policies on carbon emissions? Do you have programs that support people working from home, or alternative modes of transportation?’”
Keppen is excited about the recognition. She noted, “It’s something we’re really proud of. We haven’t been on the list for the past two years. The Office of Sustainability has had staff transition and had been put on a hiatus. This year, the new sense of commitment . . . pushed us into the rankings.”
The Office of Sustainability has tackled a number of sustainable issues, including food waste, renewable energy usage, and recycling. Keppen is excited for the revitalized sense of urgency in these issues.
Said Keppen, “There’s been a renewed commitment to recycling and food waste. Those two things have been really investigated not just by me and my office but the students at Ursinus. For example, examining what can we do [in] Upper Wismer to eliminate food waste. A lot of colleges and universities have a lot of plastic contamination in their food waste, which prohibits their food waste from being composted. How can we remove plastics from Upper Wismer? Little things like removing the individual packages of cream cheese and butter, that really makes a difference.”
Keppen expressed optimism for the future of the sustainability program at Ursinus, citing an important goal for the college: “One of the main things I’ll be focused on is . . . going carbon-neutral by 2060. I know it sounds far away, it sounds like we have a lot of time to figure things out, but we actually have a step process. It’s going to take everyone’s involvement, including the faculty and staff and the students.”
Keppen also encouraged students to get involved with sustainability on campus. She added, “I really encourage students that have questions about sustainability to approach me.”
You can learn more about sustainability on campus by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting the environmental studies department on the first floor of Pfhaler Hall.