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OU Sustainability

A butterfly on a flower in a pollinator garden.


Oakland University commits to sustainability as a prime value in seeking to co-create a continuously deepening capacity for sustainability thinking, living, and visioning with students, faculty, staff, and the community at large.

As an institution of higher learning, the University supports teaching, research, outreach, and campus operations that encourage sustainable relationships, cultivate renewable habits, and help generate ecological values that reflect our responsibility for engendering a more just and habitable world.

Donate through the All University Fund Drive (AUFD) to sustainability projects and causes on campus. 

Support Sustainability Now


  • We envision a university that prioritizes sustainability as the goal of all educational effort by adopting the best practices, boldest thinking, and most creative models of adaptation (curriculum, research, operations).
  • We envision an educational experience that equips students to become agents of change and transformation, committed to working for a healthy and habitable biosphere conducive to the thriving of all life (curriculum).
  • We envision transformed disciplinary and educational paradigms premised on the coexistence of all living beings, taking the biosphere as primary teacher and practical laboratory for learning how to live (research and curriculum).
  • We envision robust support for interdisciplinary research that advances sustainability – from the physical and social sciences to the arts and humanities (research).
  • We envision a physical campus that contributes to the goal of carbon neutrality by minimizing the ecological footprint of its facilities and operations (operations).
  • We envision transportation, water, and food systems premised on the principles of renewability and sustainability, aimed at the eventual elimination of waste (operations).
  • We envision a transparent and accountable operational decision-making process that is informed by ecological thinking and that promotes healthy ecosystems and the flourishing of bio-life cycles beyond human utility (operations).
  • We envision research and outreach initiatives that educate and transform our communities, nourish our natural ecosystems, and enrich our cultural experiences (outreach/community  engagement, research, curriculum).
  • We envision a community awakened to the necessity of struggle—not as an option but as a condition—for bringing about a more just and livable future, following the lead of disadvantaged and marginalized communities working at the frontlines (community engagement, curriculum, research, diversity; diversity, equity and inclusion).

**Please review the Oakland University Land Acknowledgement Statement**

OU Center For Enviornmental Sustainability & Ethics


Oakland University commits to a vision of sustainability that is rooted in a deep sense of responsibility toward our planet and our collective future. As an institution of higher learning, OU strives to become a sustainability leader in Southeast Michigan and a model of best practices by placing sustainability at the forefront of every decision, action, and innovation.

The mission of the Center for Environmental Sustainability and Ethics is to advance sustainability goals related to Academics, Campus Operations, Biodiversity & Green Spaces, Community & Public Engagement, and Fiscal Responsibility.  The Center’s work will promote and facilitate the timely efforts of scholars, researchers, students, and administrators, along with civic, business, and education leaders to address urgent environmental, ecological, and social challenges.

Sustainability is a social practice rooted in local ecosystems that enjoins human communities to learn ways of living within planetary limits and observing symbiosis and reciprocity with the natural world upon which all life depends.  It encompasses notions of equity, Iindigenous knowledge, biodiversity, and valuing of both human and non- human life.

Work Of The Center

The Center for Environmental Ethics and Sustainability will work to advance sustainability initiatives in five major areas:


The Center will promote sustainability across the  curriculum by providing material support for new course development and new faculty competencies. It will also help generate ways to promote and support faculty and student research through such initiatives as  mini-research grants, fellowship opportunities, and programming that facilitates and helps showcase sustainability research.

Campus Operations

The Center will cooperate with campus operations to support and promote best practices in areas such as transportation (reducing campus traffic) and food and dining (minimizing and recycling waste, encouraging sustainably-sourced products, reducing/eliminating plastic, etc.). This includes cultivating sustainable practices in maintenance, facilities, groundskeeping, and campus utilities and energy management and reduction.

Biodiversity and Green Space

OU is unique for its biodiversity and green spaces, some of which serve as vital living laboratories for teaching and learning. The Center will work to preserve and promote responsible care and use of these outdoor spaces by encouraging low-carbon maintenance (such as pollinator gardens and native landscaping), supporting initiatives like LORACS (OU’s Laboratory for Outdoor Research, Agriculture, Conservation, and Sustainability), managing OU’s Biological Preserve, and cultivating partnerships with regional environmental organizations, Native communities, and local schools and governments with interest and expertise in promoting biodiversity and conserving green spaces.

Community and Public Engagement

The Center will strive to become a sustainability hub and leader for the local community, working with community partners, organizations, and elected officials to educate the citizenry about sustainable practices and ways of living. Such efforts might include regional and state policymaking recommendations, as well as partnerships with local groups and individuals that will help establish OU as a vital intellectual resource for sustainable education, legislative action, and social and cultural transformation.

Fiscal Responsibility

The Center will work to ensure that Oakland manages its fiscal responsibilities in ways that align with its commitment to sustainability. This includes sustainable investments (including divestment from industries involved in or promoting fossil fuels), as well as the allocation of university resources to foster practices and initiatives that promote and support sustainability across the university.


Executive Committee

The Executive Committee will work closely with the Director to clarify the Center’s mission and goals, assist the Director in developing a vision and strategic plan for advancing the Center’s mission and goals, and provide advice and consultation to the Director on key decisions and major initiatives


  • Director of Sustainability
  • Four faculty members
  • Representative from the President’s Office
  • Representative from University Advancement

Sustainability Advisory Committee

This body, drawn from various constituencies and units across campus, will provide advice and counsel related to  campus environmental sustainability initiatives, foster support for community partnerships, offer recommendations that positively impact campus environment and that align with university sustainability goals, and help build the Center into a regional/state/national model of university engagement.


  • Two staff (AP) members, serving 3-year staggered terms
  • Faculty member appointed from each school, serving 3-year staggered terms
  • One (1) Dean, appointed on a revolving basis.
  • Two student members, serving 2-year staggered terms (One shall be a representative of Student Congress, and/or SC Director of Sustainability)
  • Representative from Academic Affairs (1-2)
  • OU Board of Trustee
  • Representative from the Community Sustainability Subcommittee

Community Sustainability Subcommittee

This committee will assist in cultivating strong community relations and in developing partnerships that help advance sustainability goals beyond the university. It will work to strengthen the university’s relationship with local, regional, and state leaders in ways that enhance  OU’s leadership role as a vital public institution dedicated to sustainability.


  • Representative(s) from the community at-large
  • Representative(s) from industry at-large
  • Representative(s) from local government
  • Representative(s) from economic development community
  • Representative(s) from local, regional environmental organizations
  • Representative(s) from K-12

January 2021: President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz names a “sustainability team” composed of faculty and staff.

January – October 2021: Sustainability team conducts a comprehensive assessment of the university’s sustainability practices in the areas of academics, research, facilities, utilities, energy, waste management, biodiversity, food and dining, institutional investments, transportation, wellbeing and work.

Spring 2022: Oakland University and Oakland County formalize partnership to utilize OU’s faculty experts in the development of a countywide sustainability plan.

Spring 2023: Oakland University receives seed investment from the Oakland University Credit Union to establish the OU Center for Sustainability Center & Environmental Ethics.

The Gift

A $1M gift from the Oakland University Credit Union provides seed money in what university leaders expect will be the launch of OU-based sustainability initiatives that attract the support of private and publicly traded businesses, government agencies and foundations throughout the region.

The $1M gift will support campus sustainability initiatives, and explore innovative ways OU can be at the cutting edge of sustainability. In addition to establishing the center, a director of sustainability position will be supported from the gift funds.

Collaboration and ongoing input from faculty, staff, students and the university’s facilities management team are keys to the success of the initiative.

Leadership Team
  • Mozhgon Rajaee, associate professor, School of Health Sciences
  • Chris Reed, director, Oakland Center
  • Scott Tiegs, professor, biological sciences, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Lily Mendoza, professor, communication and journalism, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Jeff Insko, professor of English, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Steven Stanton, associate professor, management and marketing, School of Business Administration
  • Amy Banes-Berceli, associate provost, Office of the Provost
  • Steve Mackey, VP, Finance and Administration
  • Mike Westfall, VP, Advancement
  • Frank Provenzano, Office of the President