Sustainability Challenge

USF is a finalist in a competition to find the most innovative climate leaders in higher education.


By USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (March 19, 2012) – As major urban research university, the University of South Florida made news in 2008 when President Judy Genshaft signed on to the American Colleges and University’s Climate Commitment. Since then, USF has surged into the top ranks of institutions in implementing greener practices and pursuing research projects centered on understanding the impact and mitigating climate change.


Now, USF is a finalist in the prestigious Second Nature 2012 Climate Leadership Awards, a national competition among colleges and universities to earn the title of “Most Innovative Climate Leader.”


The university’s students, faculty, staff and supporters can help bring new recognition to USF’s green efforts.


The awards feature a public, online voting component. Each finalist institution has produced a video that promotes their specific sustainability efforts in hopes of earning the designation. Visitors will log their votes using their profiles on social networks such as Facebook.


Call to Action: Vote at between now and midnight on April 14 and PlanetForward will profile the institutions with the most votes during its “Move the Planet” conference the week of April 16.


In May, a steering committee from the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment - an agreement between nearly 700 colleges and universities to promote sustainability through teaching and action - will select the official 2012 Climate Leadership Award winners. One to two institutions from each Carnegie Classification will receive an award, announced during the Climate Leadership Summit at American University in Washington, June 21-22.


Christian Wells, director of USF’s Office of Sustainability, said simply making the short list of nominees is another “huge step forward” for USF in earning national recognition for campus sustainability efforts. Wells credits students’ commitment to minimizing the campus’ impact on the environment for distinguishing the university as a national leader.


“Just like our amazing athletics teams, sustainability at USF has been gaining a lot of national attention over the past few years,” said Wells. “We’re now at a point where we ‘walk the talk’, and we’re very proud of that. Being recognized with a Climate Leadership Award would show the rest of country what we already know—that we’re serious about sustainability.”


Second Nature - the lead sponsor of the climate commitment – is a national nonprofit that seeks to create a sustainable society by transforming higher education, and PlanetForward, a media company that publishes news, opinion, and insight about energy, climate, and sustainability.


"Because sustainability is a lifestyle that addresses today's economic crises, not a set of disparate technologies or principles, there is no better place to begin building a culture of sustainability than at America's colleges and universities," said Anthony Cortese, co-founder of Second Nature. "The 2012 finalists represent the best of the best institution-wide approaches to teaching and action. We urge all colleges and universities to build off these ideas to promote sustainability systemically.”


More information on the awards is at


The following colleges and universities, listed according to their respective Carnegie Classifications, are the 2012 finalists:


Doctorate Granting University


Arizona State University, AZ

Georgia Institute of Technology, GA

New York University, NY

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL

University of South Florida, FL


Master’s Colleges & University


Florida Gulf Coast University, FL

Goddard College, VT

University of Central Missouri, MO

William Paterson University of New Jersey, NJ


Baccalaureate College


Allegheny College, PA

Carleton College, MN

Luther College, IA

Spelman College, GA


Associate/Tribal College


Austin Community College District, TX

Chandler – Gilbert Community College, AZ

Glendale Community College, AZ

Haywood Community College, NC


Special Focus Institutions / Other


Pratt Institute and PALS, NY

SUNY Upstate Medical University, NY

University of California System, CA


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