RC Paul: “Father of Sustainability”

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RC Paul, director of sustainability at Kennesaw State, was recently honored as one of the recipients of the inaugural Presidential Diversity Awards. The awards highlight the continued growth of the University’s diverse population and efforts to create a climate of respect and inclusiveness on campus.

The awards “took a broad view on diversity, including nature, and the fact that we are one species among a diverse array of species on the planet,” Paul said.

The Award for Distinction in the Sustainability category recognized Paul’s decades-long efforts to preserve natural areas on campus, promote energy efficiency and grow the University’s recycling programs. He was a driving force behind the creation of Kennesaw State’s Climate Commitment Council and its observance of Earth Hour and Earth Day.

One of the easiest things to do is ignore your surroundings, Paul said. “Having sustainability recognized on presidential level sends a message that it is something to take seriously.”

Paul, a professor of biology, has been teaching at Kennesaw State for 35 years, one of the longest-serving educators on campus. For the last three years he’s led a two-day workshop with faculty from all of the colleges where they learn about local and global issues of sustainability. In the workshops, the educators develop units within existing courses or create new courses with sustainability themes.

“The idea is that students don’t just hear from me or from other people in the sciences about sustainable development,” said Paul, who has his Ph. D. from State University of New York at Stony Brook. “They hear about it in English literature, in music classes, in business courses. The idea is that this is something on their radar screen and it becomes important to them.”

Paul also connects Kennesaw State’s plant operations staff with its academic community. For one of his courses, “Sustainability at KSU,” Paul invites plant operations personnel to talk to students. This gives the staff a chance to connect with students, who learn what it takes to make the machines hum and the University run.

“It’s a great benefit for both. Students get a real eye-opener on what’s working here,” he said. “No matter what you are doing on this campus you are an educator.”

RC Paul talks about sustainability: http://youtu.be/72lAUQK2hM4

-- Yolanda Rodriguez