NACUBO 2017 – Currents of Collaboration

The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) is a membership organization representing business and financial officers at more than 2,100 colleges and universities. NACUBO’s mission is to “advance the economic viability, business practices and support for higher education institutions in fulfillment of their missions.” NACUBO supports and engages its members through professional development activities, including its annual meeting, which was held recently in Minneapolis from July 27 through August 1. Sustainability is one of the many business and policy areas that NACUBO researches and promotes, and the Office of Sustainability was on hand at the conference to network and learn best practices from our peers.

Overlooking the currents of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.

This year’s meeting theme was “Currents of Collaboration,” focusing on “the power of higher education and the role of the chief business officer in navigating connections and steering diverse teams toward a shared vision for the future” (John Walda, President and CEO of NACUBO, Meeting Experience Guide). This theme, as it relates to building green initiatives on campuses, was explored in depth in some of the sessions that we attended. In their session titled “Cents and Sensibility,” Georgia Tech representatives Steven G. Swant (Executive VP of Administration & Finance), Mark Demyanek (Assistance VP of Operations & Maintenance), and JulieAnne Williamson (Assistance VP of Administration & Finance) explained that chief business officers, facilities and operations, and sustainability offices are natural partners in implementing projects on campus. The chief business officer invests and aligns projects with the campus strategic vision. Facilities and operations designs and implements the projects. Sustainability offices provide the education and programming. They stressed that by engaging all stakeholders on a campus, positive impacts are made. In “Collaborating to Achieve STARS: Why, What, How, Obstacles and Benefits,” Ruth A. Johnson (Vice Chancellor of Planning & Administration, University of Washington Bothell), Julie Feier (VP of Finance & Administration, CFO, Western State Colorado University) and Sally Grans Korsh (Facilities Management & Environmental Policy, NACUBO) discussed the necessity of engaging multiple campus departments when applying for the AASHE STARS rating. They explained that sustainability issues crossover throughout campus departments and that the data and time needed to complete the AASHE points survey is huge. As such, your campus could be missing points by not asking for everyone’s help with the process. There is clearly a need for strong campus collaboration and data mining in order to ensure that sustainability initiatives are successful.

There were many other informative sessions, in addition to the two discussed above, as well as captivating speeches by three keynote speakers – Thomas Friedman, Michele Norris, and Bill Bryson. This exciting agenda was held in the Minneapolis Convention Center, which is a LEED certified building. While there, we took notice of the many options for waste disposal. Bins, with clear signage for placing compostables and recyclabes, were conveniently located throughout the center. As we saw on the center’s digital signs, 60% of the waste is diverted; and more information about their sustainability features can be found at this link. We in the Office of Sustainability feel inspired by the venue and the conference to continue working hard to implement best sustainability practices at Georgia College.

Bins located in the Minneapolis Convention Center.

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