Home American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment The American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment

The American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment

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When I was contacted about joining the Presidents Climate Commitment, I thought it was a great idea. For a number of years, we have offered a B.S. degree in Environmental Science and an M.S. degree in Environmental Policy and Management. Putting some of the theory that we teach into practice would be an interesting endeavor. I wasn’t sure that an online university would be able to generate the same impact on global warming that a land-based institution could, so I asked our Director of Facilities to review the Commitment document to determine if we would be able to comply with the guidelines.

The first commitment is to take the steps necessary to develop a plan to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible. There are three parts to plan development which include: (1) “create institutional structures to guide the development and implementation of the plan,” (2) “within a year of signing, complete a comprehensive inventory of all greenhouse gas emissions and update the inventory every other year thereafter,” and (3) “within two years of signing, develop an institutional action plan for becoming climate neutral.”

In addition to plan development, the Commitment asks the participants to “initiate two or more tangible actions to reduce greenhouse gases while the more comprehensive plan is being developed.” A list is provided in the Commitment and we were able to comply with the first two which are “establish a policy that all new campus construction will be built to at least the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver standard or equivalent” and “adopt an energy-efficient appliance purchasing policy requiring purchase of ENERGY STAR certified products in all areas for which such ratings exist.” We continue to review our ability to comply with the remaining five recommended actions.

The Commitment requires that we make our “action plan, inventory, and periodic progress reports publicly available by providing them to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) for posting and dissemination.”

We have no current plans for constructing a new building, but we have contracted for three renovation projects since the commitment was signed and in each case, we have worked with the contractor and architect to design Green Building standards in the projects wherever possible. While the estimated costs of such standards range from 4-10% higher than non-green standards, we are pleased that we were able to call attention to our desire to build to Green Building standards. We have held discussions with several developers and contractors about our long-term campus needs and in every discussion we’ve indicated that we have committed to Green Building standards. We’ve also adopted and implemented a policy of purchasing ENERGY STAR certified products whenever possible.

In some ways, operating an online university is a very effective way of reducing greenhouse gases. Our 31,000+ students study from their homes or workplaces and we do not need to maintain the physical plant that would be necessary to house that number of students and support staff. Our students and faculty do not generate additional automobile fuel emissions by commuting to campus and buildings like dormitories, dining halls, and classrooms are unnecessary. That said, we believe that we can comply with the terms of the Commitment and are proud to be part of the greater Higher Education community calling attention to a long-neglected problem: sustainability.

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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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