Dr. Scott D. Miller, President of Bethany College, is the co-executive editor of the eighth volume of “Presidential Perspectives,” a thought-provoking leadership series authored by college and university presidents to be published as a book next month.
The series features a collection of perspectives aimed at providing insight on the issues facing higher learning institutions nationwide. The 2013-2014 series examines “Elevating Sustainability Through Academic Leadership.” The topic illustrates how colleges and universities can support environmental initiatives while incorporating sustainability into their curriculum.
“America’s colleges and universities are responsible for the majority of the scientific discovery and technological invention that has advanced sustainability science,” explains Dr. Michael M. Crow, President, Arizona State University, and author of the edition’s foreword. “For academic institutions, fostering teaching and research that advances sustainability thus requires new institutional arrangements. But, more broadly, universities should be at the vanguard of producing societal transformation and solutions to the challenges that confront humanity.”
In addition to remaining competitive academically, today’s higher education institutions must also appeal to socially active students and ensure that they are providing a variety of sustainability programs as well as implementing environmental stewardship practices on their campuses, the series points out.
The first chapter of the series, entitled “Liberating Liberal Learning: Integrating Sustainability in the Curriculum,” authored by Dr. David Shi, President Emeritus, Furman University, explains that “education for sustainability involves helping students imagine—and eventually enable—a better life for all by taking the long view about what really matters.” When evaluating the impact of sustainability on higher education, Dr. Shi asserts that its reach goes far beyond the institution, the campus community or the individual student.
“Ultimately, sustainability is a strategic way of enhancing the interactive dynamics of people and place over time,” writes Dr. Shi. “It requires balancing the growth in human population and societal expectations with the earth’s limited resources and carrying capacity. What could be more important than for students to develop the competencies necessary for creating a more sustainable civilization?”
Additional topical chapters featured in the Presidential Perspectives series include preparing students for careers in sustainability, implementing environmentally responsible programs and practices on campus, the future of sustainability and its impact on higher education and more.
“It is easy for sustainability to become lost in the higher education dialogue given the myriad of other data, financial challenges, and public scrutiny,” said Dr. Miller, who, along with Dr. Marylouise Fennell, senior counsel for the Council of Independent Colleges and past president of Carlow University, serves as executive editor of “Presidential Perspectives.” “An institution’s commitment to sustainability may seem like a luxury in and of itself at a time when higher education finds itself defending the value of a college degree; however, perhaps it is precisely because of the current economic environment that the tenets and impacts of sustainability deserve a second look.”
Dr. Miller is President and M.M. Cochran Professor of Leadership Studies at Bethany College in West Virginia. Now in his third college presidency, he has served as a campus CEO for nearly 24 years.
Dr. Fennell is a principal of Hyatt Fennell, a higher education search firm. She holds an honorary doctoral degree from Bethany College.
They have collaborated on 11 books. Both serve as consultants to college presidents and boards. They are regular columnists for “College Planning and Management” and “Enrollment Manager.”
Contributing writers for this year’s “Presidential Perspectives” include:
• Dr. Michael M. Crow, President, Arizona State University
• Dr. David E. Shi, President Emeritus, Furman University
• Dr. Judith Ramaley, President Emerita, Winona State University
• Dr. Mark Huddleston, University of New Hampshire
• Dr. Wim Wiewel, Portland State University
• Dr. Jonathan C. Gibralter, Frostburg State University
• Dr. Harry Lee Williams, Delaware State University
• Dr. Theodora J. Kalikow, University of Southern Maine
• Dr. Paul W. Ferguson, University of Maine
• David F. Hales, President Emeritus, College of the Atlantic
The entire eight series of Presidential Perspectives is archived at www.presidentialperspectives.org.