Today, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D., announced the launch of her newest initiative – the FAMU Sustainability Institute (FAMU-SI).
According to President Mangum, advancing the research, teaching, and application of innovative solutions to global socio-economic, ecological and energy sustainability issues is one of the cornerstones of her administration. The FAMU-SI will play a pivotal role towards helping the university to achieve this mission.
“FAMU has received national recognition for its strong commitment to sustainability. As such, the goal of this institute is to enhance our efforts, as well as expose the extensive knowledge and expertise that our faculty and staff possess in this area,” Mangum said. “Our goal is to provide real solutions to some of the world’s greatest and immediate environmental sustainability needs.”
The three core programmatic areas of the institute include: enhancing the university’s academic and research mission; improving the efficiencies and environmental stewardship of campus operations; and performing outreach and engagement initiatives among the university community and broader communities.
The institute will directly engage students with the goal of training future sustainability practitioners, entrepreneurs, leaders in science, technology, research, engineering, agriculture, and mathematics (STREAM) and other related disciplines.
To assist in carrying out the president’s sustainability initiative, Abena Sackey Ojetayo has been appointed chief sustainability officer and executive director of the institute.
“We are fortunate to attract such a world-class professional to FAMU to lead the institute,” Mangum said. “I’m encouraged by what lies ahead because of Ms. Ojetayo.”
Ojetayo is a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) accredited professional, and was named among the “10 New Faces of Civil Engineering for 2013” by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which highlighted her as one of the industry’s next leaders.
“I am honored to join FAMU during such a transformative phase, which allows us the opportunity to align cross-disciplinary research, teaching and campus operations to create a model 21st century institution,” Ojetayo said. “As a historic land-grant institution with solid agricultural expertise and a public service mission, FAMU is positioned to be at the forefront of investigating, teaching and applying solutions to the global insecurities we are seeing in the energy, water, and food economies. I am looking forward to working with faculty, staff, and students in this great initiative for our campus and community.”
Ojetayo earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Cornell University with a concentration in infrastructure and sustainable development. She also earned her master’s degree in engineering management from Cornell.
She has researched and worked in various countries, including working as an energy and infrastructure planner in Greece and managing an interdisciplinary team of engineers, architects, and urban designers to master plan a model sustainable city in Nigeria – Anam City, which was recognized by the Clinton Global Initiative as a promising approach to international sustainable development.
In her most recent position, Ojetayo worked in Cornell’s energy and environmental engineering section of facilities services and helped manage its alternative energy and green building design scope for its new Tech Campus.
The FAMU-SI leadership team will also include College of Agriculture and Food Sciences Professor Odemari Mbuya, Ph.D., who will serve as faculty director, and FAMU-FSU College of Engineering Professor Clayton Clark, Ph.D., who will serve as associate faculty director. Together, the team will mobilize faculty in cross-disciplinary research and help transform the campus environment into a living-learning laboratory for students and the broader community.
According to K. Ken Redda, Ph.D., vice president for research, the implementation of the institute and Ojetayo’s expertise will be a welcomed addition to the groundbreaking research community at FAMU.
“This institute is a strong representation of the university’s research capabilities,” Redda said. “FAMU has a long history of conducting research that has impacted the region, nation, and the world in remarkable ways. This institute will not only expand our impact, but will continue to position FAMU as a leader in sustainability research.”
The institute is already preparing to make a global impact, as it has joined forces with FAMU’s School of the Environment and the City of Tallahassee to host the International Summit on Energy-Water-Food Nexus on March 26-28, 2015 at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center. The summit will serve to promote and recommend practical and innovative solutions to the global crisis surrounding energy, water, and food.
The summit will be chaired by Victor Ibeanusi, Ph.D., dean of the School of the Environment.
“This is not just a conference, it is a summit with tangible practical industry solutions and outcomes,” said Ibeanusi. “This summit will empower this generation and generations to come to be innovative contributors to creating and adopting solutions that will serve as a much needed answer to our global needs regarding the energy, water, and food crisis.”
Tallahassee Mayor John Marks applauded FAMU for its efforts.
“The City of Tallahassee commends FAMU for its dedication to sustainability and is proud to partner with this outstanding institution in hosting the Summit on Energy-Water-Food Nexus,” said Marks. “As an award-winning utility provider and internationally recognized leader in sustainability, the City of Tallahassee knows firsthand the importance of the institute and the summit and the need for our community to be a part of the ongoing global dialogue.”
Earlier this year, FAMU was named among the “Top 10 Greenest” HBCUs in the nation by the Building Green Initiative and was previously recognized by the Princeton Review for its commitment to sustainability in its academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities, and career preparation.
Learn more about the institute and summit at www.famu.edu/sustainability.