UD receives $12.5M gift to create sustainability institute

on Sep 22, 2014

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In the largest gift in its history, University of Dayton will create a new sustainability institute thanks to a $12.5 million donation.

The funds come from the George and Amanda Hanley Foundation, and will be used to create the Hanley Sustainability Institute. The new institute will grow the school’s sustainability curriculum and focus on developing a workforce that is prepared to address sustainability in business. Benefactor George Hanley, a 1977 UD business graduate, said more businesses across all sectors will need that kind of expertise.

“We think we’re seeing this city begin to turn around, and the schools are a big part of that,” George Hanley said in a media event on UD’s campus attended by students and alumni. “We wanted out gift to contribute to that turnaround.”

The school says it will launch a campaign to raise funds from foundations, corporations and other donors, with the goal of matching the donation and bringing the funding for the institute to $25 million.

“It is a call to action for the University as a whole to infuse our commitment to sustainability throughout everything we do,” said Dan Curran, president of UD.

The gift is the largest in the school’s history. In 2000, the school received $10.5 million from the Society of Mary (Marianists).

In 2008, it received $10 million from an alumnus who chose to remain anonymous, which was to be used for scholarships for business, education and engineering students.

UD currently has a minor program for sustainability. With the new institute, it says it will add an interdisciplinary graduate certificate for sustainability, create an urban agriculture demonstration project with Dayton leaders, and establish research fellows and scholars in residence so faculty can conduct sustainability-focused research.

It will also create a conference on sustainability education, the Hanley Conference, to bring thought leaders in the discipline together.

“Addressing the complex challenges of creating a more sustainable world calls for expertise from a variety of disciplines and a culture of collaboration and creativity,” said Paul Benson, UD’s interim provost.

The need for knowledge of sustainable business practices is expected to grow. A study by EthicalMarkets.com found the green economy is already more than $1 trillion a year, and will grow to $2.7 trillion by 2020, with students in business, engineering, education, health sciences arts and sciences seeing benefits from incorporating sustainability into their working lives.