Georgia Southern University entered into a partnership Thursday with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as part of a continued effort to become one of the country’s more eco-friendly colleges.
In a morning news conference at the university’s Nessmith-Lane Continuing Education Building, Georgia Southern President Brooks Keel and EPA Region 4 Administrator Gwendolyn Keyes-Fleming signed a memorandum of understanding to promote research, teaching and outreach in environmental sciences, sustainability and engineering.
The partnership, which marks the first time the two institutions have officially come together, will provide new opportunities for student training, faculty research support, and environmental and public health initiatives, according to university officials.
“Georgia Southern University is all about environmental protection; we have been for quite some time,” said Keel, speaking to a crowd of university personnel and political leaders gathered for the conference. “Environmental sustainability is at the very heart of what we do at Georgia Southern.
“We are just delighted to be able to have this opportunity to formalize an agreement with the EPA,” he said. “This decision has to do with the opportunity to train, educate, and provide our students with internships in all fields associated with sustainability and the protection of our environment. And, the research opportunities are absolutely tremendous for our faculty.”
In addition to access to EPA internships for students and support for environmental research, Thursday’s agreement is expected to result in increased outreach efforts by Georgia Southern for environmental work on campus and throughout the region.
Also, the EPA will participate in college career fairs and department seminars, have representatives serve as student mentors, and conduct mock interviews.
Affiliation with a research institution like Georgia Southern will allow the EPA to further its mission of promoting and creating eco-friendly solutions, according to Keyes-Fleming.
“The signing of today’s memorandum of understanding is a direct result of this administration’s commitment to science, math, technology, engineering and environmental education — and a belief that all of those things, and more, will have a vital role in shaping our future,” she said. “This is an opportunity for all of us to come to the table with ideas and gain an understanding about our changing world. Tomorrow’s environmental leaders can provide a strong foundation so that we not only survive in the 21st century, but thrive.”
The environmental education partnership is the latest move by Georgia Southern to build on a reputation as an eco-friendly institution. The GSU recently launched a new Interdisciplinary Concentration in Environmental Sustainability and signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Earlier this fall, students voted overwhelmingly to support a “sustainability fee,” and for a second consecutive time, Georgia Southern was named to the Princeton Review’s “Guide to 322 Green Colleges.”
“I cannot think of any better way to publicly say what we have all known about Georgia Southern for so long,” Keel said about the memorandum. “We care deeply about the environment and our students care very deeply about sustainability.”
Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.