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It is Earth Day and, today, on behalf of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, I signed a new commitment to push this institution to the goal of carbon neutrality by 2030. It will require vision, investment and hard work to achieve. We can do it.

You can read the agreement here. This is about more than just reducing emissions and “being greener.” This is for the future of our students and employees.

I want to thank UWO Shared Governance leaders in the Faculty Senate, Senate of Academic Staff, University Staff Senate and Oshkosh Student Association, who, as independent bodies, approved measures urging this administration to sign the carbon neutrality agreement. I also want to thank UWO Sustainability Director Brad Spanbauer and Stephanie Spehar, Director of the Sustainability Institute for Regional Transformations (SIRT), for their leadership and stewardship of this important pledge and the actions it will inspire.

Any institution or organization can sign an agreement. As members of the UWO community, our goal is moving beyond symbolism and continuing the very real work necessary to lessen this university’s impact on the planet and become more efficient, effective and just in the process. We aim to take significant steps in decarbonizing our facilities. This is where our emissions come from. This commitment also asks us to respond and demands that we address the connection of these emissions to issues of environmental justice, public health, mental health and community resiliency.

More than a decade ago, students pressed UWO to begin this journey. We have answered their call and, in doing so, earned a national reputation for sustainability in higher education. We ended reliance on coal as a heating source. We integrated sustainability into our general education curriculum. We pursued a host of technologies and other initiatives that have put purpose into action and achieved results. We welcome the challenge to reach further.

Thank you all for helping advance UWO on this path.

Chancellor Andy Leavitt
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