Home American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment Is it reasonable to assume a goal of achieving carbon neutrality?

Is it reasonable to assume a goal of achieving carbon neutrality?

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I attended The Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual Executive Leadership Forum in Washington, DC and had the opportunity to listen to a panel discussing the pros and cons of signing the Presidents Climate Commitment. David Oxtoby, President of Pomona College and former Dean of Physical Sciences at the University of Chicago, made a point which was similar to my thinking that he had some reservations about his and any institution’s ability to achieve carbon neutrality but thought that the process of examining efforts and pledging a commitment was important. Oxtoby earned his PhD in Physical Chemistry from UC-Berkeley and has the background to understand the scoring system. Another point that he made was that his institution does not and will not buy the emission credits that other institutions have purchased as he does not believe that the buyer can control the long term outcome (the owner of the forest could harvest the trees, for example). Mark Wrighton, Chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis, said that his institution had not signed the Commitment but discussed the many activities underway to reduce carbon emissions including supporting a light rail with five stops at WU and providing rail passes to employees. Kathleen Schatzberg, President of Cape Cod Community College and one of the charter signers of the Commitment, discussed her efforts to obtain state of Massachusetts approval for the first LEED-certified building at a state higher ed institution. Other efforts at her campus included converting 80 percent of previously mowed open space to meadows and receiving funding for a wind turbine. I left the session inspired by the efforts of the three institutions and their presidents.

When I returned home, I picked up the June 2008 issue of Wired magazine and noted that the cover article is about global warming and cutting carbon. The article titled “Inconvenient Truths” states that the war on greenhouse gases is too important to be left to the environmentalists. There are a few key points highlighted:

  1. live in cities
  2. A/C is ok
  3. organics are not the answer
  4. farm the forests
  5. China is the solution
  6. accept genetic engineering
  7. carbon trading doesn’t work
  8. embrace nuclear power
  9. used cars not hybrids
  10. prepare for the worst.

While I don’t have the background as a scientist as President Oxtoby does, many of these comments are based on scientific evidence and contrast with some of the environmentalists’ efforts. I recommend interested readers pick up a copy of the issue.

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Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston continues to serve as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and as a member of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

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