September 17th, 2007

  • Location: Sayles-Hill 251
  • Present: Staff Members: Scott Bierman, Robbie Groth, Rob Oden, Austin Robinson-Coolidge, Fred Rogers and Hudlin Wagner; Faculty Members: Deborah Appleman, Peter Balaam, Victoria Morse, Sam Patterson and Mary Savina; Alumni Observer Lee Mauk; Students: Tricia England, Chai Lee, Evan Rowe, Tim Singer and Tommy Walker.
  • Absent: Alumni Observer Sara Anderson; Trustee Observer Louise Heffelfinger.
  • Guests: Mathias Bell, Dan Bergeson, Eva Posfay, Steve Spehn and Gary Wagenbach.
  • Secretary: Anna Losacano

Approval of Minutes

The minutes from the meeting of May 14, 2007 were approved unanimously.

President’s Welcome and College Council Introduction

President Rob Oden opened with an introduction to College Council and its importance for the Carleton community. He included that it is a widely representative group and that the decisions reached at College Council can go directly to the trustees. He also emphasized that items for the council’s agenda can be suggested by students, faculty and staff and that he and his colleagues are very open to any suggestions for the agenda.

CSA Agenda for 2007-2008

Tim Singer, President of the Carleton Student’s Association, introduced CSA’s recent changes, which have been instituted in hopes of making the CSA more connected and integrated in to student life. A hand out was distributed including the CSA’s mission and agenda for the year. CSA senators are now divided among interest areas and are responsible for development and action within their area. In addition to financial operations and Senate business, CSA meetings will now include a hearing in which community members will be able to advise and inform the CSA on relevant issues.

The floor was opened for questions. After reviewing the CSA’s agenda, Dean Scott Bierman inquired about a few issues already on the CSA’s agenda and the sequencing of these issues relative to other committees. He suggested that the CSA be aware of their scheduling in terms of the process in which issues are handled.

Continued Accreditation Activities

Rob Oden opened by noting the importance of accreditation as an opportunity for Carleton to learn more about itself in addition to being an important process for federal loans. Associate Dean Éva Pósfay updated the council on the many people on campus who have been working since Spring 2007 to prepare the college for accreditation. She reminded the council of the all-campus email informing the community about accreditation activity and of the website that covers all the topics of accreditation (http://apps.carleton.edu/accreditation).

Éva Pósfay then provided an update on the upcoming plans for this fall. Focus groups are being organized on campus and will be meeting throughout fall term. The first three focus group events will gather randomly chosen participants from students, faculty and staff. The fourth and fifth events will be open to anyone in the Carleton community on a first come, first served basis. Participants will be asked to discuss key questions about Carleton in an attempt to help the accreditation subcommittees write the college’s self-study. These focus groups will be one of the many ways information about Carleton will be collected. Also mentioned was the new insight to be gained in these focus groups by combining people from different areas of the community who may not usually be in touch. Finally, Éva Pósfay announced that the Carleton community will be invited to give feedback on the first draft of the self-study in winter (hopefully sometime in January) when the document will be posted on the accreditation website.

Rob Oden commented on the incredible level of involvement necessary in the accreditation process and thanked Éva Pósfay for her work. Éva Pósfay added that she encourages the council to contact her or any member of the Accreditation Steering Committee if there are any comments, questions or suggestions about the accreditation process.

President’s Climate Commitment

Director of Facilities Steve Spehn presented a summary of the recent activities surrounding the President’s Climate Commitment while emphasizing that is just a summary with many other sustainable activities not included The college is on track to meet the commitment’s goals. This progress report will also be seen at the upcoming Environment Advisory Committee meeting.

Two out of three parts of Section 1 of the Climate Commitment, which is the biggest section, have been completed. The first goal met was the responsibility assignment of the President’s Climate Commitment to the Environmental Advisory Committee. The second goal was to complete a biannual greenhouse gas inventory. This was completed this summer by a consultant. The majority of the work still to be done is in completing the goal of making Carleton carbon neutral. The committee will be devoting much of their work this year to reaching this goal.

Section 2 of the President’s Climate Commitment is to implement other progress while working on the long term goals of Section 1. 2 of these 6 goals have been implemented in the use of a wind turbine generating about 30% of Carleton’s electrical energy and in the creation of the Carleton Responsible Investment Committee. 2 other goals they are currently working on are to adopt the policy of always buying Energy Star products when possible and adopting a LEED silver policy for all construction, which would require a change in Carleton’s construction policy. The LEED silver policy is being implemented in the new art and residential buildings. The last 2 goals still to be addressed are increased public transportation and the purchase of offsets for air travel.

ENTS Educational Associate Mathias Bell and faculty member Gary Wagenbach, members of the PCC committee, were present to answer any questions with Steve Spehn. Faculty member Mary Savina asked for clarification that the term “carbon neutral” not “greenhouse gas neutral” was being used in the Commitment.

Mathias Bell commented that following Carleton and Rob Oden’s leadership there are now 388 schools signed on to the Commitment. Vice President Fred Rogers commented that are many other environmental initiatives taking place at Carleton. Mathias Bell added that facilities is now working to complete a new waste initiative and that there is a possibility of a Recycle Mania competition similar to the energy-saving Dorm Wars competition.

Rob Oden commented that environmental action is in keeping with Carleton values and should be a community value. The new environment policies are not cost free but are important and deserve Carleton’s resources. He then asked whether obtaining LEED silver accreditation for construction was worth its expense or whether it is possible to follow LEED guidelines then put the extra money back into environmental projects. Steven Spehn answered that they have never done a LEED accreditation so they aren’t sure as to its necessity or expense. Rob Oden then asked how LEED silver compares to the Minnesota Sustainability Guidelines (the current construction standards used). Steve Spehn answered that they compare favorably but he has heard that it is an expensive process to obtain LEED accreditation.

Scott Bierman commented on the difficulty of publicizing the many environmental projects going on in addition to the President’s Climate Commitment and asked how Carleton can better publicize all its activity. Mathias Bell answered that there are many ways they are working to better publicize environmental projects including using the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, which Carleton is a member of. This organization publicizes much of the different projects on Carleton’s campus. There is also a new website that will act as a clearinghouse of campus environmental activity.

Gary Wagenbach commented that one of the hardest things about increasing sustainability is to link the facilities world with the academic world. Fred Rogers added that his biggest criticism of the contract is that it is not focused on the integration of the business aspects of the college with the rest of the college. He added that Carleton is working on increasing this integration in order to better ready the campus for changes.

Dining Task Force

Director of Auxiliary Services and Special Projects Dan Bergeson updated the council on the current activity in Dining Services. He noted that the college currently has a great dining program with Sodexho, whose contract ends June 30, 2008. He also noted that Dining Services has had a good experience of changing and improving the dining services with student organization like the CSA and the Dining Board. He added that these improvements will continue even as the college must decide whether to renew Sodexho’s contract.

A consultant was hired last year to help make this decision. John Cornyn, a principal of the Cornyn Fasano Group, came to campus, interviewed about 60 people and observed the current dining services. He recommended that the college stay with Sodexho, adding that they could improve the dining services dramatically with the new contract without changing vendors. Due to community members’ desire to be very involved in this process, the college decided to begin a request for proposal process to increase the community’s involvement. After sending out RFQ proposals, the college has 4 companies offering their services. A task force that includes student, faculty and staff will be evaluating each company’s proposals. Dan Bergeson added that the community is encouraged to participate and ask questions about the process.

The floor was opened to questions. Rob Oden asked whether it is impossible for a college to run its own food service. Dan Bergeson and Fred Rogers both contributed that it is a very expensive and a very difficult transition to return to a college-run food service. Tricia England asked to what extent student opinion had been taken into the consultant’s recommendation not to change providers, adding that she personally dislikes the current food. Dan Bergeson answered that there was an extensive survey and interview process. Scott Bierman commented on the trauma of transition if a new provider is chosen. Dan Bergeson assured the council that the task force will visit other schools, learn about the provider’s history and look for long term quality. Fred Rogers also added that it is a very serious decision as the college has employed Sodexho for 30 years and needs to expect another 30 year relationship. He also reminded the council of the disruption to many employees caused by switching providers and the importance of being sensitive to the many challenges this could create for Sodexho employees. He also added that the provider candidates should be focused on nutrition in addition to sustainability. Hudlin Wagner commented on the importance of in depth questions beyond asking whether the food tastes good to make sure whoever is hired is ready to meet Carleton’s needs. Student Tommy Walker commented that he believes that the central question in the search should be whether the food is good because it is a large part of student lives.

Faculty member Peter Balaam remarked on the enthusiasm taking place at St. Olaf’s student-run farm, STOGROW, and the shared enthusiasm between their food provider and the students. Student Evan Rowe commented that Farm House and Green House are enthusiastic about a similar project at Carleton and student Tim Singer added that here is a group working to bring a student-run farm to Carleton.

The meeting adjourned at 5:30 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Anna Losacano ‘10

College Council Secretary