September 14, 2005

Committee Works to Balance Environment, Parking

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On Aug. 31, interim President Hunter R. Rawlings III delivered his charge to the Ad Hoc Faculty Committee on Environmental Sustainability and Transportation and Parking Needs, defining for them exactly what he felt the group should focus their attention on and where their efforts should be concentrated.

Yesterday, following input from the committee, Steve Golding, executive vice president for finance and administration, appointed Dean Koyanagi ’90 to serve as sustainability coordinator and to “catalog and publicize the many ongoing and new sustainability initiatives on campus and coordinate across various administrative units to ensure that Cornell is leveraging its existing resources in this area.”

“Dean will make sure that the campus as a whole is talking about sustainability,” said Rawlings. “He will also serve as a liaison to students, giving them a critical sense of participation.”

According to a statement about the Ad Hoc Committee, Rawlings said the members should seek a “proper balance between environmental sustainability and the University’s need for transportation alternatives and parking.” The committee was formed as part of a student request stemming from the Redbud Woods agreement of July 18, 2005.

The committee itself is comprised of a undergraduates, graduate students and professors from different disciplines within the University. The name was in fact officially changed at the first meeting from “Ad Hoc Faculty Committee” to simply the “Ad Hoc Committee” because of the strong representation among students. The goals of the committee are an extension of the work former President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77 started to accomplish during his presidency.

“Most of the participants were inspired to become part of the committee because of Lehman’s initiative,” said Prof. Kathryn Gleason, chair of the landscape architecture department. “We were all doing things within our departments out of Lehman’s initiative and this is important to us in light of that.”

Gleason serves as the chair of the committee.

In Rawlings’ charge to the committee, he urged them to consider “forward-thinking steps to abate parking demand from students, faculty and staff; creative steps to find alternatives to single occupant commuting, including improved transit access.”

He also mentioned Cornell’s plan to provide new students who do not purchase parking permits with a free bus pass, and asked the committee to examine the possibility of extending this offer to the rest of the Cornell community.

In the first meetings of the committee, the focus has been the president’s charge.

“The committee is reviewing the charge. We want to review it and see how we’ll go about responding to it,” Gleason said. According to Gleason, the committee is going to serve as an open forum for the community to voice its concerns. Although the meetings are not open to the public, their results will be posted on a website. Next on the committee’s agenda is to start meeting with the Redbud Woods Committee and major groups within the community and “staying committed to sustainability as a University priority,” Gleason said.

Koyanagi will look to continue the work of Garrett Meigs ’04, who served as a part-time sustainability intern this past year. He also wrote “State of Sustainability at Cornell,” which served as an overview of the University’s sustainability efforts.

Archived article by Emily Gordon < br> Sun Staff Writer