SFCC announces sustainability plan


University of Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley was among the speakers Friday morning for the convocation at Santa Fe Community College. Foley congratulated the SFCC women's basketball team for a 3.2 grade point average, while being ranked 21st nationally.

Karen Voyles/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

Santa Fe Community College began to awaken from its winter rest Friday morning during its convocation, a gathering of faculty and professional employees held before the start of each semester.

Among this semester's convocation speakers were University of Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley and SFCC facilities services project manager Rebecca Rogers.

Foley traveled across town to recognize SFCC's women's basketball team, while Rogers crossed campus to tell her colleagues that SFCC had been selected for a pilot project on sustainability.

The convocation began and ended with difficult news.

President Jackson Sasser began by briefly memorializing Alberto Julio Rayneri Alonso, a Master Artist in Residence for 12 years at SFCC who died on Dec. 31. Before closing the convocation, Sasser told the approximately 500 full-time employees in attendance that a hiring freeze instituted during the fall was continuing because SFCC and other schools statewide likely would be asked to trim another 4 percent from their operating budgets.

The lighter notes of the convocation came from Foley. He arrived with congratulations for SFCC women's basketball coach Chanda Stebbins and her team. Stebbins, a 1997 UF graduate, was a two-sport Gator, playing both basketball and volleyball. Foley said her reputation as a hard worker during her collegiate career was translating into court and classroom success for this year's Lady Saints. The SFCC squad is ranked 21st nationally, has an 11-3 record and compiled a fall semester grade-point average of 3.2.

Rogers told the convocation crowd that SFCC was among the first campuses accepted as pilot locations for the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System - STARS - program being developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Speaking late in the day to The Sun, Rogers said, "We are taking this tracking system for a test drive. We are going to gather data to gauge where we stand in 85 different areas of sustainability - from recycling to energy management to curriculum to community outreach."

Association officials said the February to December pilot phase will help determine thresholds in four broad areas; governance and finance; social responsibility and community engagement; education and research; and operations.

Once thresholds are established and ratings determined, Rogers said the information will show SFCC its strong points and weak points and provide information about areas that need to be focused on.

"This should matter to students who are interested in sustainability and it should matter to the community because it will show we are making the best use of our resources," Rogers said. "It will also let our faculty and staff know they are part of an organization that is operating in a sustainable way."

Karen Voyles can be reached at 352-359-5656 or kvoyles@gmail.com.

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