This Week in History: Graham Institute launched

Sunday, November 22, 2015 - 9:29pm

10 years ago this week (Nov. 23, 2005)

Seven University schools collectively launched the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute, an effort to address an energy crisis and reverse the effects of pollution and global warming, this week 10 years ago. 

This group is a compilation of interdisciplinary environmental research programs from the schools of Natural Resources and Environment, Engineering, Public Health, Business, Architecture and Urban Planning, Public Policy and the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. The cooperation of these disciplines yields practical environmental projects and solutions.

Then-Associate Provost Phil Hanlon emphasized the program’s ability to provide assistance to companies looking to make efficient and environmentally friendly products. He provided the example of a software company aiming to manufacture a fuel-efficient computer. With such a large collective skill set, the GESI would have the resources and information necessary to advise this company, he said.

Today the organization is mainly focused on developing sustainable practices, training students to be environmental leaders and promoting sustainability.

32 years ago this week (Nov. 23, 1983)

University officials began looking into merit scholarships to attract minority students to the school, 32 years ago this week.

Opportunity Program Director Eunice Royster, now E. Royster Harper, the current vice president for student life, was confident in the approach. On the other hand, Salene Hitchcock, then-MSA vice president for minority affairs, the precursor to Central Student Government, disagreed with the merit-based program. She said need-based scholarships would be more appealing and beneficial to more students.

Another major objection to this initiative was the idea of “buying students” and the tensions this method might raise. Competition was argued to be both beneficial, as it would ensure a more talented student population, and detrimental, as it might lead to ignoring students with financial need.

The University’s efforts to increase and raise support for diversity have greatly increased over the past years. According to the University’s website, new students are required to attend an interactive workshop called Change it Up!, in which freshmen are given the skills to create safe, inclusive communities.