University of Montana President, George Dennsion receives Second Nature’s 1st Annual Climate Leadership Award for Outstanding Individual Climate Leadership. Award recipients were recognized at the 4th Annual American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment Summit in Denver, CO on October 12th.
President Dennison has referred to climate change as “the leading global issue of our time” and has shown tremendous leadership in making the University of Montana (UM) a model for sustainability. On Earth Day 2002, President Dennison signed the Talloires Declaration, rededicating UM to promoting sustainable development and social justice on local, state, national, and global levels. In the same year, President Dennison appointed the Sustainable Campus Committee to guide and document efforts by UM and by campus groups to achieve the goals of the Talloires Declaration. President Dennison charged the SCC with developing an annual State of the Sustainable UM Campus report to be delivered each Earth Day. In 2007, President Dennison signed American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) as a charter signatory and in 2009 he endorsed a Climate Action Plan that sets the UM’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2020.
To support these actions, President Dennison has backed the formalization of the Office of Sustainability with the addition of a full-time director, a student-driven Sustainability Center, and student experiential learning opportunities in the UM Forum for Living with Appropriate Technology (FLAT). The FLAT is university-owned housing that students are retrofitting as an example of energy-efficient and sustainable living. UM offers a minor in Climate Change Studies that is available to all disciplines and the UM Green Thread faculty development program works to incorporate sustainability into curriculum. Green Thread is offered to faculty of any discipline and is open to educators from other universities in the Montana region.
More recently, President Dennison saw through the development of UM’s 1st ‘green’ building. The Payne Family Native American Center is the first of its kind in the nation and will achieve USGBC LEED Gold status.