Anderson University alum Dick Sprague is determined to help the campus “go green.” As the university's sustainability program coordinator, he has come alongside AU with a desire to make environmental sustainability a natural part of the community.
Sprague has been working on AU’s sustainability efforts since 2009. “Since working with the program, one of our main priorities has been to create awareness,” said Sprague. He has worked with faculty and students to come up with the best way to incorporate environmental tasks into everyday campus life.
“We have chosen five different areas to focus our sustainability efforts,” said Sprague. These areas have been identified as: sustainable lifestyle, global issues, academics, university infrastructure, and external connections.
The first area, sustainable lifestyle, can be seen throughout AU in several ways. ”We want our community to be considerate of the foods they eat, exercising, the amount of energy they consume, and recycling,” said Sprague.
Recycling can be seen throughout the campus in the library, the student center, and residence halls. In these locations, there are recycling bins for paper, metal, glass, plastic, and cardboard. There have also been little changes, such as eliminating trays in the Marketplace to reduce the amount of water, energy, and soap used when washing dishes. The university also recently installed water refill stations in different locations. “The water refill stations are there so that students will not have to use so much plastic when purchasing disposable water bottles,” said Sprague.
Global issues and academics are two other areas where Sprague wants to create awareness. These areas both stress the importance of discussing and learning about environmental matters. Sprague is working on incorporating sustainability into university coursework, including some areas not normally associated with sustainability, like political science courses.
“It all connects. If we run short on resources, that causes problems with groups of people who potentially want to move to where the resources are. In turn, this might cause political problems,” said Sprague. The university infrastructure and external connections are also important because they inform alumni and prospective students about matters such as AU’s energy usage and waste management policies.
In the past, students involved with the sustainability program have completed projects such as a community garden. This student-initiated project began in 2010, when students took it upon themselves to start a fund-raiser to help with the project. As part of the project, they tilled land, built a storage shed for equipment, and rented out garden plots to their colleagues and people of the community. Sprague has also invited area environmentalists to speak at AU so that those interested in sustainability can learn more ways to help preserve the earth.
Tosha Ireland, previous co-president of AU’s Orange, Black, and Green, has also helped Sprague in his quest to make AU more environmentally friendly. As a senior, she hopes underclassmen see the same potential in Sprague’s sustainability efforts as she did. “The best hope for students wanting to be involved in a ‘green’ movement on campus is to create new complementary programs with Dick Sprague,” said Ireland.
Sprague eventually hopes to get more students involved in the sustainability program. “There is a need for students who are passionate about the environment and making it a way of life,” said Sprague. “We are working to make AU a more efficient environmental place, but we can only take it one step at a time.”
— Kelli Webster is a senior from Indianapolis, Ind., majoring in communication arts. Webster is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.