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Messiah College teaches and practices environmental stewardship

Messiah College teaches and practices environmental stewardship
Renee Yardley
February 14, 2020

For the 17th of our “Conversations with Green Champions” Rolland President Philip Rundle speaks with Messiah College, in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, about sustainability across campus and beyond.

Brandon Hoover, Director of Sustainability, who also teaches courses like Environmental Issues and Sustainable Solutions, and Dwayne Magee, Director College Press & Postal Services and an English major, touch on sustainability as a field of study, environmentally responsible in-house printing, and tree planting partnerships nearby and in Brazil.

Messiah is a nationally-ranked college of the liberal and applied arts and sciences

  • Attended by 3,375 undergraduate and graduate students; 40% have part-time jobs at the college, earning while learning workplace skills, in a textbook case of the economic and social sides of sustainability.
  • Recognized for academics and value by Forbes and The Wall Street Journal, among many others.
  • Awarded a STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) bronze rating for sustainability performance in 2017.

Are faculty, staff and students equal partners on your Sustainability Committee? 

BH: Its main function is making recommendations and in that sense all three are equal partners in bringing ideas to the table. On some projects, one or two might play bigger roles. In our work on an updated sustainability plan the main sub-committees – academics, operations and campus engagement – have provided great input.

This comprehensive plan goes well beyond our original climate action plan, to cover everything from biodiversity to our supply chain. We will submit a first draft to college governance in May and expect it will be complete in fall 2020.  

What typifies environmental stewardship at Messiah College?

BH: A local tree-planting partnership. We are in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and a tributary, Yellow Breeches Creek, runs through campus. In partnership with the Alliance for Chesapeake Bay, volunteer students, faculty and staff will this year plant 500 trees and shrubs in riparian zones (near streams), helping restore and protect this ecologically-diverse area. The Alliance, which leverages federal, state and foundation contributions, provides supplies. We also joined forces to plant 180 trees on campus in the fall of 2019.

With 30 sustainability-related courses in many departments, and a B.A. in Sustainability Studies program, is Messiah College a trend-setter?

BH: Yes, among smaller colleges. The B.A. program is unique with its two main concentrations:  1) community development, focusing on politics, economics, cities and town planning; and 2) conservation, focusing on plant biology, tropical biology and related sciences. The program enrolls 20 students a year. Some want to start businesses with a sustainability bent, some to work in policy, education or the field.

We’re also working to have even more departments offer sustainability-oriented courses, to broaden students.

DM: As an English major, one of my classes is Environmental Literature, so I’m one of those students. Beyond what I learned there, the college exposes us to the idea of living a life that keeps sustainability in the forefront of your thinking and behavior.

How does the local community benefit from your sustainable Grantham Community Garden?

BH: We’re proud of that garden. An acre-and-a-half for organic produce, two dozen chickens, and beehives. Over 100 volunteers and a handful of student employees do the work.

We host tours of school and retiree groups, and connect with locals at our booth at a farmer’s market. Sales make the garden self-sustaining in terms of supplies and support other projects – but don’t quite cover labor!

Is there a sustainability checklist for your printing department?

DM: Sustainability is the lens for all buying. With equipment, I ask for energy usage to be specified in the proposal. With paper, the first priority is FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council®) or SFI® (Sustainable Forestry Initiative®) certification, the gold standard for forest management. Then I look for recycled content, where and how the paper is made – which led me to Rolland.

How did you learn about our company?

DM: At the IPMA (In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association) conference, I saw a brochure at Rolland’s booth explaining your recycled paper-making process, and how the mill is powered by biogas energy, and said, “I’ve got to get to know these people!”

Admissions Magazine, our primary recruiting tool, was our first Rolland project. It’s one of our bigger print runs: 32 pages (Rolland Enviro® Print) plus covers (Rolland Opaque® Cover) and 103,000 copies.

As a paper manufacturer we have to ask: What is the role of print communication at the college?

DM: Our print department has nine employees, does 5,000 print job a year and outsources 150, specifying FSC or SFI certification. And we have four mail employees. So paper is still in style. 

The college has a multi-channel approach to marketing and communications, and print is very much in the mix, with post cards, flyers, brochures, posters, and letters. Print is tangible, credible. Well-printed materials have a feeling of legitimacy that reinforces brand image.

How does your supply chain contribute to environmental stewardship?

DM: Effective stewardship is always a team effort, with success tied to partnerships.  Our 1,200 trees barely put a dent in the need for global reforestation, but along with other organizations we have contributed to planting 1.8 million trees worldwide through Print ReLeaf.

It’s much the same with recycled paper. We are not huge consumers, but with partners like Rolland we can do our part and increase usage of responsibly-manufactured paper. Our representative just introduced us to Rolland Enviro® Digital, so we’ll be using even more.

BH: A sustainable supply chain leverages the impact of our purchasing. It also depends on the contributions of internal people and departments following sustainable practices and policies.

Do you see Messiah College as a green champion?

BH: Yes, not because we’re perfect, but because we’re making progress through our grass roots work across campus.  And our sustainability graduates, who are well-versed in interdisciplinary thinking, can help solve environmental problems facing society.