The Green ($) in Green

Had an opportunity along with several of our staff to attend the third annual Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council conference last week. It was held at Miron Construction in Neenah, and while it was just one day, it packed a pretty powerful learning punch.

We had the opportunity to hear from several Wisconsin companies that day about their approach to sustainability and what has driven them to pursue a wide range of “green” efforts. Companies like Johnson Controls, MillerCoors, SC Johnson, Briggs and Stratton, Lands End, Bassett Mechanical, and others. One company talked about installing hand dryers in the restrooms and saving $12,000/year on paper towels.  Another mentioned simple sanitation policies/practices that reduced sick time in their workforce by half.

They all, in one way or another, talked about the 3 Ps as drivers for sustainability efforts:  Payback, People, and Planet, and for organizations such as this, clearly in that order.  Regardless of what one’s personal view or values may be in this arena, these drivers make perfect sense for companies and organizations like ours.  There needs to be a return on investment (or payback) for these initiatives to fly; secondly, they are paying attention to the overall health of people–both employees and consumers; and as they put it, if in the end it’s a good thing for the environment (planet), great!

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Celebrating Graduation with our Students

Last Saturday was a wonderful day. We had the opportunity to celebrate the graduation of about 700 students here at mid-year with the formal Commencement Ceremony downtown Appleton at the beautiful Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.

We enjoyed great comments from both a student and alumni speaker. They both had powerful stories to share about their lives and the impact our college has made on them.  As we are starting to see, many of the region’s dislocated workers are now crossing our commencement stages.

I would share a related story, one that most of us probably hadn’t thought about. While talking recently with the OWLS (Older, Wiser Learners) student group, one gentleman shared that after 2-1/2 years he is now about to graduate and, as a dislocated worker, went on to say that it felt like he was losing his job again. He had come to know the people here, settled into the routine of college, and enjoyed his experience with us. Now, that was coming to an end. Since hearing that very enlightening feedback, we have worked to put some additional services in place to support our students’ transition back to the workplace.
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