Public Purpose Magazine, Spring 2015
2015 Spring PP Cover

The Sustainable CampusMore Universities Adopt Sustainable Initiatives and Incorporate Sustainable Learning Across the CurriculumBy Karen Doss Bowman
The campus community at Millersville University in Pennsylvania is turning trash into treasure. In the process, they are transforming the lives of children around the world. 

The university is a collection site for TerraCycle—an upcycling company that turns used juice pouches, potato chip bags, toothpaste tubes, yogurt containers, old cell phones, and other items into new consumer products such as backpacks and tote bags, fencing, trash cans, picnic tables, and park benches. Since the project was initiated by the university’s Center for Sustainability three years ago, Millersville students, faculty and staff have collected more than a ton of trash, with TerraCycle paying anywhere from a penny to $10 for each item. 

Every $250 Millersville earns for recyclable materials is donated to SmileTrain, an international charity that provides cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries to children in developing countries whose families cannot afford the surgery. Without these cleft repairs, these children would not only face difficulty eating and speaking, but also a lifetime of shame and isolation from social rejection. Most children with clefts are not allowed to attend school, leaving them unable to get jobs and often forced to live on the streets as beggars.

Countering PushFor More Guns on CampusBy Daniel J. Hurley
Despite the fact that virtually every higher education and law enforcement stakeholder group opposes the idea of expanding the presence of handguns on public college campuses, state legislatures throughout the country continue to introduce legislation to do exactly that. An aggressive gun lobby has facilitated the introduction of guns on campus legislation in no less than 40 states in recent years, and in at least 15 states so far just this year. With every campus and school shooting—of which there have been more than 110 since the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut—the National Rifle Association and its allies intensify efforts to eviscerate public safety laws involving firearms.

In 2004, Utah became the first state to require its public universities to allow concealed weapons on campus. Since 2011, six states have followed suit by forcing colleges to allow concealed permit holders to possess guns in specified areas on campus, although Utah and Colorado are the only two states that allow guns everywhere on campus. Further, court cases in four states have overturned long-standing policies prohibiting firearms on campus. Still, the remaining 43 states have in place policies that prohibit guns on campus or allow colleges to decide for themselves whether to allow guns on campus.

The LGBTQ PresidencyThe Need for Representation and Equality in Higher Education LeadershipBy Mel Netzhammer

In August 2007, The Chronicle of Higher Education published a story about the three openly gay presidents in higher education, all at private universities. Immediately after the story ran, five additional openly gay or lesbian presidents “outed” themselves to the Chronicle, bringing the number to eight. By 2010, when these presidents decided to form LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education, the number had grown to twenty-five. Today, there are more than 50 openly LGBTQ presidents and chancellors across all sectors of higher education.

Members of our group now convene at most national higher education conferences, including AASCU’s, and independently at least once a year. As a relatively new chancellor, I’ve found the support and encouragement of these colleagues to be important to my success at Washington State University Vancouver. This is a new era for out presidents and our spouses and partners. We have greater visibility. Governing boards are more open to LGBTQ presidents and same-sex couples, and past fears that fundraising or legislative success will suffer are dissipating. Yet, relatively speaking, the number of openly LGBTQ presidents remains very small—only seven within AASCU.