An early, bold innovation at nation’s most innovative university

It occurred to me while I was
sitting here these few seconds looking out at this group
to paraphrase Sally Field, You like us. You really like
us, and thank you. [APPLAUSE] A little bit of background– 10 years ago, ocean levels
were lower and less acidic. Global temperatures were cooler. Earth had more species. The reefs were healthier. And the ice caps were larger. The number of poor people
living in the US living, doubled up with
family and friends, was half of what it is today. And the planet’s population
was 900 million people less. Pretty amazing, just 10 years. These are just a few of the
reasons why President Crow– I got to take along. And a group of
extraordinary scientists gathered to determine how
ASU, this unique entity, could play a central role
in what could sustainability look like at a large,
extraordinarily large, research institution. Our most important goal
was to design a world class school that would educate
future generations of leaders with knowledge and skills
necessary to address the disturbing trends
I just mentioned. Today, just 10 years– I keep repeating that
because it’s so special, was when just 10 years ago,
when the school was opened, we come together
today to celebrate its remarkable successes. In this short time since
it was a little startup where we congratulated
ourselves with 20 people in the first class. And that number may
have been smaller. The school has an amazing
set of achievements. And here are a few examples. Nearly 1,000 degrees granted. Another 2,000– [APPLAUSE] Another 2,000 students
studying sustainability at ASU this year. [APPLAUSE] Nine degree programs in
sustainability launched. 88 core and appointed faculty
in the School of Sustainability. 400 ASU faculty and staff
designated as sustainability, scientists, and scholars, based
on their teaching and research portfolios. A university-wide minor
design for students who are eager to learn
about sustainability while pursuing degrees
in other fields. 337 students who studied
sustainability abroad in more than 10 countries. [APPLAUSE] Over 400 student interns placed
at 225 companies, government agencies, and
nonprofit organizations to influence sustainability
practices on the ground. Virtually full employment and
enrollment in graduate programs in every school
for every alumni. Think about it–
full employment. [APPLAUSE] Again, in only 10 years. Most importantly, when the
school opened 10 years ago, it was the only
comprehensive degree granting institution of its
kind in the United States. Now, there are 150 schools, all
of them copying us and waiting to see if we fail or succeeded. We have succeeded, and
we continue to do so. [CHEERS AND APPLAUSE] Looking back 10 years to 2006
when we launched the school, we now realize we actually
underestimated how soon and how seriously the
sustainability of people and the planet that was
becoming threatened. Things moved so much
faster than any of us ever anticipated,
and not for the good. It was clear then,
and it’s clear now that it’s people causing the
most daunting challenges we face. Thus, it’s people
like all of you and this entire university
who, with the right knowledge, tools, and experiences,
they’re the ones who can change the current course. And we’re very proud of you,
and we know you can do it. The Faculty School
of Sustainability– you’d think it would
roll off my tongue. The faculty worked very
diligently to better understand and ultimately discover
new ways to address an incredibly wide
range of challenges, from controlling locust
plagues, reducing urban poverty, creating affordable renewable
energy among so many others. And the school students
are breathtaking. As I mentioned, all
the school’s graduates are now working on
sustainability issues. It’s my pleasure just
to point out three. Emily Freeman is Denver’s
environmental administrator. She’s initiating programs to
reduce the environmental impact of 27 city departments. Ryan Delaney started
the highly successful nonprofit organization,
Carbon Roots International. Carbon Roots is using
market-based solutions to reduce both deforestation
and poverty in Haiti. And Marco Ugarte, and excuse
me if I pronounce it wrong, is the sustainability
manager at MillerCoors, who is reducing the
water consumption of this giant
multinational beverage company while simultaneously
reducing its energy use. I could give you
hundreds more examples of the impressive impacts
of the school’s alumni. It’s because of what
they learned here. It’s what they get to
take throughout the rest of their lives. Suffice it to say, their
enthusiasm and accomplishments make me optimistic
about the future. To be sure, there’s much more to
do with the growing population, the serious potential
for world food shortages, ocean ice caps melting, and
more than a billion people on the planet living on
less than $1.25 a day. We need hundreds of
thousands of people equipped like our students
to make the world a more sustainable better
place and to make it a place for
future generations to live a continually,
great quality of life. As you know, ASU was
just named by US News and World Report the nation’s
most innovative university. Some of us think that
came about because of the emphasis and the
commitment to sustainability. The school, the Global
Institute and the school was an early bold innovation. And as entrepreneurs well know
not all innovations succeed. But this one is
surely succeeding. I’m confident the
School of Sustainability will continue to set the
standards for educating future leaders, an education
mission that affects each and every one of us,
as well as generations of our families,
for our friends, for the people on this campus,
for the people in this nation, and for the people
around the world. The remarkable achievements
in sustainability science at the university,
the institute, and the School of
Sustainability are well known in academic circles. Now, we need to ensure
that this record becomes equally well-known in
other sectors, by business, by government. I’m counting on
everyone here today to spread the word about ASU
in the School of Sustainability with the hope it
will inspire others to take on these
challenges and to scale the solutions needed
for the problems that we all know we have. I want to offer my deep
gratitude and sincere congratulations to the
faculty, staff, and students, and their families of the
school and the institute for their dedication
and hard work, and especially to Dean
Moon and President Crow for their
leadership and commitment to creating a more
sustainable planet and improving human well-being. 10 years ago, golly,
it’s such a short time, the SU School of Sustainability
was the only school of its kind. No competitors, no
programs to emulate. But now there are 150. So I guess that makes the school
both the first and the best. Thank you all. [CHEERS AND APPLAUSE] Now, it’s my great
joy and pleasure to introduce Dr. Michael Crow. The incentive for all
of this and to give you a tiny little
thing– those of you who have not heard about this
first trip he took me on. We went with a
group of the world’s leading early scientists. Sustainability was not even
a recognized word in science. And he only had one caveat. I couldn’t say anything
for 3 and 1/2 days. Fortunately, I saved it up. And now I speak a lot.

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1 Response

  1. Hrishikesh says:

    Definitely applying for the M.Sc Fall 2017!

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