University of Minnesota Alumni Association


From the President

MPact 2025 and a Greener University

Sustainability is not just a word but a core priority for the University of Minnesota. Through MPact 2025, the University’s first systemwide strategic plan, we are amplifying this important work at the intersection of our shared values and action, or what we define as System Commitments.

In 2004, the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents adopted a “Sustainability and Energy Efficiency” policy. Since then, we have joined many national and international sustainability and climate change efforts, while also establishing institutional goals, including to reduce the University’s greenhouse gas emissions. From 2008 through 2019, we experienced a 39 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction on the Twin Cities campus and 36 percent across the system. In addition, the U of M-Morris is now carbon neutral for all of its electricity use. Over 60 million kilowatt hours of the University’s electricity use comes from renewable sources, which is enough to power 5,500 homes.

In this important work, we are committed to advancing contributions that are uniquely Minnesotan. Central to this distinction is our MNtersections Commitment, which is inspired by Minnesota to improve people and places at world-class levels. It is here where the questions that our state poses and our strengths as a University intersect, and where the opportunity for robust collaboration across state and local government, higher education, philanthropy, and the private sector allow us to unlock our state’s innovation potential. It is also where, in addition to our focus on health and food and agriculture, we amplify our efforts to build a fully sustainable future.

We have established goals, action items, and measures aligned to demonstrating our state and worldwide leadership in sustainability and environmental teaching, research, and convening power. And we are holding ourselves accountable with two distinct measures: First, we are committed to establishing and increasing our Times Higher Ed Sustainable Development Goal rankings, including, but not limited to, climate action, clean water, and land ecosystems.

Second, we aspire for all five system campuses to achieve a gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) by 2025. AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) program recognizes sustainability accomplishments in areas such as academics, research, operations, and engagement. To date, only the University’s Duluth and Morris campuses have earned this distinction (the Twin Cities campus’ gold rating is currently expired).

We have also established goals, action items, and measures for developing system leadership and governance coordination for sustainability initiatives, including to launch annual systemwide and campus sustainability meetings by June 2021. By 2023, we intend to establish a next generation systemwide Climate Action Plan for 2030, as well as plans for each of our campuses.

Our collective action and implementation aim to advance positive, meaningful progress. We want to build on more than a dozen U of M startups related to energy and environment that are bringing technologies and approaches to build a fully sustainable future.

And we want to multiply that impact through BioMADE, the major new manufacturing institute on our St. Paul campus, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Defense. It squarely positions the University as a leader in developing a sustainable, circular, bio-based economy.

The U of M helps our neighbors through the Climate Smart Municipalities partnership between Minnesota cities and the German government. There’s also Extension’s Clean Energy Resource Teams, Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, and the Resilient Communities Project.

My sincere appreciation to you for sharing your proud alumni voice over recent weeks and months as we’ve developed our sustainability goals and our broader MPact 2025 plan.

The University’s path to creating a fully sustainable and impactful future is better and more inspiring because of each of you.

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