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CCU establishes President’s Council for Sustainability and Coastal Resilience, receives major grant from Aramark Higher Education

February 7, 2022
Steve Harrison, CCU’s vice president for auxiliary enterprises, also serves as the University’s first-ever chief sustainability officer.

Coastal Carolina University President Michael T. Benson has announced the establishment of the President’s Council for Sustainability and Coastal Resilience (PCSCR). The council is charged with transforming CCU into a more sustainable campus, centering sustainability in the University’s curriculum and student services, and serving the surrounding communities to build toward a sustainable future. Aramark Higher Education, the University’s contracted food service provider, recently contributed a $500,000 grant in support of the PCSCR’s endeavors.

Benson has appointed Steve Harrison, CCU’s vice president for auxiliary enterprises, to provide administrative leadership to the council and serve as the University’s first-ever chief sustainability officer.

“The President’s Council for Sustainability and Coastal Resilience is a wonderful opportunity for our campus and the region,” Benson said. “The council’s initiatives will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the ever-growing importance of sustainability. I am confident that under Steve Harrison’s leadership, the council will create more awareness and programing that will benefit our students, faculty, and staff and the area as a whole. I am also grateful for Aramark’s generous grant, which will tremendously support the council’s important work and help us to act now.”

Established in July 2021, the council will continue to:

• Complete a comprehensive and inclusive campus greenhouse gas inventory;

• Submit the University’s second report via the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS);

• Establish formal, collaborative connections to the Access, Inclusion, and Diversity Council, and the Wellness Coalition; and

• Create and publish a sustainability and coastal resilience strategic plan for the University.

“The unrestricted grant is part of Aramark’s capital expenditure commitment through its contractual partnership with Coastal Carolina University,” said Harrison. “It is an expression of the alignment between Aramark Higher Education and CCU that has existed for decades and continues today. On behalf of the council and co-chairs, Dr. Megan McIlreavy and Jeremy Monday, I am so grateful that President Benson, Aramark, and the CCU FoodCrew share our ambition to commit the University to a more sustainable future.”

According to Harrison, there are three planned uses for the grant that will contribute to the realization of Benson’s intention to enhance the reach, rigor, and reputation of the University:

1. Drive and support a sustainability and coastal resilience research agenda among students (graduate and undergraduate), faculty, and staff at the University. Members of the campus community will be able to apply for modest grants to support research, course design, and programmatic efforts. The PCSCR will review, approve, and manage the awards.

2. Develop and inaugurate a regional symposium on sustainability and coastal resilience intended to attract, inform, and connect various researchers and regional leaders. Harrison said the intent is for CCU to secure its place as a center for basic and applied research in sustainability and coastal resilience while extending its reach within the region as a nexus for policy development, outreach, and education.

3. Sponsor at least one annual speaker focused on issues of sustainability and coastal resilience. Harrison said, “We are excited by the aspiration to attract notable speakers and to get our campus engaged in their visits. We believe that the PCSCR should join this effort by underwriting at least one prominent speaker each year to inspire and enliven our community on this critical set of issues. We envision the speaker serving as the keynote of the annual symposium.”

To learn more about CCU’s President’s Council for Sustainability and Coastal Resilience, please contact Harrison at 843.349.6482 or