Sustaining the Future
Otterbein’s recent acquisition of 25 acres represents a tremendous opportunity for a new western development that will further define Westerville and expand Otterbein’s campus. (Learn more on page 6.) This acquisition and the thoughtful planning of its best utilization will serve as a living lesson of Otterbein’s values and principles in action—including sustainability. As we contemplate this land’s role in Otterbein’s future, we will ask many of the same questions addressed in this green issue of Towers:
As Otterbein grows, how will we continue to reduce our footprint? Since 2005, Otterbein has increased its square footage by nearly a third yet we have continued to reduce consumption, carbon output and overall costs. This is possible in part because, while our physical space expands, our commitment to an intimate learning community and the size of our student body remains constant. Without question, green practices have taken on new importance in all ongoing capital improvements and have allowed us to realize a reduced carbon footprint.
How do we model behavior and support practices that will further empower our students to champion sustainability? Student-led initiatives have driven meaningful change on Otterbein’s campus—from implementing a trayless cafeteria to a strong showing in two national sustainability competitions. Otterbein’s next sustainability coordinator will continue to help guide Otterbein’s commitment to sustainability into actionable change.
Finally, how might Otterbein best utilize its resources to mutually benefit and improve the quality of life for our immediate and extended communities? The answer to this question can be found in Otterbein’s history. In his book commemorating Otterbein’s 150th anniversary, Daniel Hurley noted that, “almost immediately the life of Westerville and Otterbein became practically inseparable.” That sense of shared community, and the shared responsibilities that accompany it, are inherent in Otterbein’s historic relationship with Westerville.
This commitment is evidenced in many ways. Consider, for example, Kevin Svitana, assistant professor of biology and earth science, who involves his students in water quality research at Alum Creek and Otterbein Lake. Their work is shared with Westerville officials who use the research findings to help manage aspects of the city’s water supply.
When professors guide students through transformational learning experiences the benefit is multi-faceted. Faculty mentors not only help students grow their understanding and potential—their efforts help grow services, knowledge and data that can be used to inform and improve how things work in our community. What more might this model accomplish?
We must ask ourselves how Otterbein can not only sustain, but increase its ability to serve an even broader community—whether through land acquisition, an educated and engaged citizenry or through sharing our resources.
I look forward to your help in sustaining Otterbein’s proud future. We have great work to do together.
President Kathy A. Krendl