U of A Plans Interdisciplinary Effort to Promote Resiliency and Sustainability

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas is taking a major step forward in its ongoing commitment to sustainability and the environment – on campus, in Arkansas, nationwide and throughout the world.

A University of Arkansas Resiliency Center is being developed as part of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design. Marty Matlock, professor of biological and agricultural engineering and executive director of the Office for Sustainability, is leading the development of the proposed center. The Office for Sustainability will be moved administratively to the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design on July 1, 2017.

The interdisciplinary Resiliency Center proposes to coordinate graduate-level education, undergraduate sustainability coursework, research at all levels, and active outreach programs in sustainable food, water, community and landscape systems. The proposed center will enable the university to build on and expand its innovative research, technology, design and implementation achievements in sustainability and resiliency. The establishment of the center is subject to approval from the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.

“The University of Arkansas will continue and enhance our long tradition of being environmentally conscious in both our policies and practice,” said Chancellor Joe Steinmetz. “The flagship institution of higher learning in the Natural State clearly must value a conservative, well-researched and engaged approach to using the state, nation and world’s resources. Sustainability and resiliency issues can only be addressed through interdisciplinary collaboration and effective partnerships on campus, across Arkansas and around the world.” 

The U of A developed its first sustainability plan in 2004 and three years later was one of the first 100 institutions to sign the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, pledging to become climate neutral by 2040. Campuswide energy conservation, sustainable operations practices and construction strategies for all campus building have been so successful that campus greenhouse gas emissions are now at 1994 levels, four years ahead of plan. The university has realized significant savings of both energy and money through energy system upgrades, despite increased enrollment and the addition of several new buildings.

“We are on track to meet the 2040 climate neutral goal, and are looking forward to exciting developments in renewable energy options over the next year,” said Mike Johnson, associate vice chancellor for facilities.

These achievements in the campus buildings and operations have been matched in the classroom and the lab.

“The U of A’s global research and design leadership in sustainability is dramatic,” said Jim Coleman, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Our faculty and students are global leaders in a wide range of sustainability initiatives, including solar energy, smart-grid power distribution systems, power storage technologies, new water treatment technologies, improved efficiency and safety in food production and distribution, and sustainable landscape and resilient community design.”

The goal of the proposed Resiliency Center is to bring all of this expertise together in focused collaboration, looking to the future.

“Resiliency is, at the very least, the ability to respond productively to changing conditions. The complex nature of the sustainability challenges we face in the coming decades – what we increasingly refer to as “resiliency design” – will require integrated thinking across all of our academic discipline traditions,” said Peter MacKeith, dean of the Fay Jones School. “The UARC will provide a cross-campus venue for collaboration and integrated learning, catalyzed by design thinking and design leadership, and building on our existing program strengths, such as the UA Community Design Center, the advocacy efforts of our departments of architecture, interior design and landscape architecture, and programs in virtually every college on campus. The opportunity for the Fay Jones School to host the Resiliency Center for the university will be transformative for the school and our campus.”

“Sustainability has long been a campuswide priority for our faculty and students,” said Matlock. “The U of A has established a global reputation for innovative research in areas that are critical for sustaining human prosperity. The University of Arkansas Resiliency Center is the next step in our commitment to enhancing sustainable prosperity for all Arkansans, for the nation and for the world.”

To learn more about the university’s sustainability efforts and academic programs, visit http://sustainability.uark.edu/.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

Contacts

Michelle Parks, director of communication
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
479-575-4704, mparks17@uark.edu

Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
University Relations
479-575-3583, voorhies@uark.edu

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