April 26, 2013

Each generation takes the earth as trustees.

- J. Sterling Morton, Arbor Day Founder

Sustainability Management

Today, April 26, is the national observance of Arbor Day while this past Monday, April 22, marked Earth Day. Both days have interesting origins with the first recognition of Arbor Day taking place in Nebraska on April 10, 1872 and the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 in cities across the United States.

Today, both are cultural fixtures reminding us of our duty to care for our world. And free market principles play a vital role in the conservation and protection of the earth and its resources. Not only are business and the environment not in conflict to one another, they in fact make great partners.

Every form of negligent land usage, for example, is a deterrent to future productivity and profitability. And in instances where individuals or corporations are less than concerned because their actions impact “someone else,” the private property rights of those affected serve as an incentive for responsible behavior.

In short, market incentives encourage behavior which is both responsible and long-term in orientation. And it is with this understanding in mind that we will roll out our new Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Sustainability Management degree in the 2013 fall semester. This new program is designed to educate uniquely trained management professionals capable of:

  • Describing the human impact on, and resulting changes to, global environmental systems resulting from enterprise activities.
  • Developing, implementing, and assessing businesses solutions that balance the bottom line with the needs of the environment and our local and global communities.
  • Managing organizations—including facilitating internal and external changes in sustainability practices—to meet current and future evolutions of the environment and the marketplace.

True to our history, our commitment to principles such as sustainability management and environmental stewardship do not stop in the classroom. Among the many year-long efforts and initiatives underway system-wide, NU students, faculty, and staff were especially busy this week with a multitude of related activities and events.

Florida campus:

On April 22, our Florida campus held an Earth Day Fair, featuring the following:

  • Earth Day Exhibit: Students prepared displays, takeaways and presentations on environmental issues related to food, transportation, energy use, e-waste disposal, endangered species, water conservation, environmental activism, and recycling. 
  • Sustainable Business Plans: Seniors in our Climate Change class created and presented business models for sustainable businesses. Audience members had a chance to ask questions and then rate the plans based on practicality and innovation. 
  • Earth Day Jeopardy: Modeled on the classic game show, participants competed for fun, answering questions based on information presented in the Earth Day displays.

Michigan campus:

April 22-26, our Michigan campus participated in the following Earth Day activities:

  • Area Clean-Up: Students, faculty and staff volunteered throughout the community to clean-up the aftermath of last week’s flooding.
  • DowGives Great American Cleanup College Grant Program: Students active in the American Marketing Association, Circle K, and the Football Team are participating in this year’s DowGives program that awards a $1,000 grant to three selected student organizations that volunteer 50 hours or more at a new Great American Cleanup Volunteer Project.
  • Greener Campus Challenge: The NU Sustainability Committee, chaired by Dr. Carolina Lopez, sponsored a student competition aimed at identifying concrete ways for making the campus greener. The top three winning proposals entail creation of a bike path to and through campus; porous sidewalks made of asphalt & recycled tires; and recycling lids specific to paper and trash to encourage recycling.
  • Earth Day Poster Contest: Sponsored by Dr. Gene Beckham, Dr. Stelian Grigoras and Associate Professor Jill Ouellette, the competition is aimed at increasing environmental awareness and encouraging sustainable practices on campus.

Texas campus

April 16-26, our Texas campus sponsored a variety of Earth Day events, including:

  • Campus Clean-Up
  • Campus/Area Attractions and Events, including: A Mural Pledge; Main Street Festival Outing; Eco Clearing Exhibition; NSA Tradition Reveal, and Canterbury Trail Walk
  • Sustainability Forum featuring NU’s own Dr. Lynda Folts, alumna Vanessa Seguin with the International Society of Sustainability Professionals, and Nick Harrison with the Texas Forest Service
  • Proclamation signing recognizing Arbor Day on the Texas campus today, April 26

In addition, our Texas campus announced its intent to pursue the following campus designations:

  • Tree Campus USA from the Arbor Day Foundation in recognition of excellence in campus tree management, as well as student and community involvement across the nation
  • Firewise Campus from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) which encourages local solutions for wildfire safety by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, firefighters, and others in the effort to protect people and property from wildfire risks

Thanks to everyone at our University for all you do for our planet. Have a great weekend!


Keith A. Pretty, J.D.
President and CEO
Northwood University
4000 Whiting Drive
Midland, MI 48640