Tuesday, March 1, 2011

FAMU and EPA Partner to Promote Sustainability, Environmental Careers and Watershed Management

At a ceremony today, Florida A&M University (FAMU) entered into two agreements with EPA focused on green initiatives. The first commits EPA and FAMU to cooperate in addressing environmental issues ranging from energy policy and sustainability to food security, health disparities, environmental justice and children’s health. FAMU is the fourteenth university to join the agency’s Collegiate Sustainability Initiative and, as part of the agreement, EPA will work with FAMU to help green the university’s campus and make students aware of internships and career opportunities in the environmental field. A second agreement was also signed between FAMU, EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that designates the university as the first Center of Excellence for Watershed Management in Florida.

FAMU President James H. Ammons signed the two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) during a ceremony this afternoon at the university’s Lee Hall Auditorium.

“EPA is committed to expanding the conversation on environmentalism by engaging Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs),” said EPA Regional Administrator Gwen Keyes Fleming. “This collaborative partnership with FAMU will allow us to advance our mutual goals of greening the university’s campus, promoting sustainability initiatives throughout Florida and educating the next, more diverse generation of environmental leaders.”

Under the first MOU, EPA committed to provide technical assistance to support several existing centers at FAMU including the Center for Environmental Equity and Justice, the Center for Environmental Technology Transfer and the Center for Water Quality. EPA and FAMU plan to undertake joint research projects, and EPA has committed technical support to assist with FAMU’s ongoing research on the environment, health disparities, pollution control, radiation protection and micrometeorology. Lastly, EPA will collaborate with FAMU’s Career Center to make students aware of internship opportunities and with the Office of the Provost to develop faculty exchange opportunities.

“This collaborative initiative in sustainability and watershed management will foster multidisciplinary and multi-scale research and community outreach programs that provide solutions to sustain and enhance environmental and watershed functions in Florida and other states in the Southeastern region,” said FAMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Cynthia Hughes Harris.

EPA and the FDEP signed the second MOU with FAMU designating the university as a Center of Excellence for Watershed Management. This is first Center of Excellence to be designated in Florida, the second HBCU, and the eighth in the Southeast. To become a recognized Center of Excellence, the institution must demonstrate technical expertise in identifying and addressing watershed needs; involvement of students, staff and faculty in watershed research; capability to involve the full suite of disciplines needed for all aspects of watershed management; financial ability to become self-sustaining; ability to deliver and account for results; willingness to partner with other institutions; and support from the highest levels of the organization.

Some of the benefits of being a recognized Center of Excellence include receipt of EPA technical assistance where needed (instructors, speakers, etc); promotion of the Center of Excellence to stakeholders; EPA letters of support for grant opportunities; and identification of opportunities for Center of Excellence involvement in local and regional watershed issues.

More information about priority watersheds in the Southeast is available online at: http://www.epa.gov/region4/water/watersheds/index.html.

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