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Learn Today. Preserve Tomorrow.

At the University of Dayton, sustainability is about more than conservation and going green. It's about living today with tomorrow on our minds and future generations in our hearts.

The largest single gift in University of Dayton history is a gift for all of us.

On Friday, Sept. 19, the George and Amanda Hanley Foundation made a gift of $12.5 million to establish the Hanley Sustainability Institute, which will extend sustainability education across academic programs at the University of Dayton.

The goal is to prepare students in all disciplines who think critically about the roles they can play in their respective fields to secure a sustainable future for their communities and the entire world.

"We want to educate and prepare students for careers — in every sector — that will help create a more sustainable future," said George Hanley, a 1977 business graduate and member of the University of Dayton board of trustees.

(Read a press release about the announcement at

"This innovative, collaborative institute will uniquely bring together students and faculty from science, business, engineering, law, art, journalism and other departments to address environmental and social justice challenges" added Amanda Hanley.


Sustainability education at the University of Dayton is not just about reducing energy consumption and developing new technologies. It's about the engineer who develops a lighter building material using renewable resources; and the architect who uses that material in a building project; and the urban planner who seeks to maximize efficiency of traffic patterns, commutes and even solar rays to minimize the ecological footprint of the building; and the psychologist who understands how people consume energy and what influences their decisions.

Call it eco-literacy — understanding natural ecological communities to create sustainable human communities. This educational emphasis is even more important than making brick-and-mortar sustainability improvements on campus, because it will “empower young people to create a more sustainable world," said Avital Andrews, who oversees the Sierra Club magazine's annual ranking of America's greenest schools.

It's an education students need, and one they are coming to expect.

Ryan Schuessler, senior mechanical engineering student and director of the University's Sustainability Week, said he's seen interest in sustainability take off in the past three years.

"A record number of first-year students selected sustainability as their learning-living community this year," he said. "Students are looking for ways to link academics with action and will be excited about the opportunities the Hanley institute will offer to make a difference."


The Hanley Sustainability Institute will be the latest bold step in our commitment to sustainability in line with our Catholic mission.

As a Catholic, Marianist university, our mission calls on us to be good stewards of all God's creation, and we feel a calling to develop solutions that will make us better stewards and to share those solutions with others to create a more peaceful and better world for all.

As Pope Francis reminded us in his May 21 audience: "Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude."

The institute will build on our existing sustainability initiatives with an emphasis on linking degree programs, coursework, experiential learning and research across the University curriculum.

"It is a call to action for the University as a whole to infuse our commitment to sustainability throughout everything we do," said President Daniel J. Curran.

Founded in 1850 by the Society of Mary, the University of Dayton has taken a comprehensive approach to environmental sustainability through academic programs, research, service, community responsibility, leadership programs.

Here are just a few examples of our leadership in this area. For more, visit

  • In June, we became the first Catholic university to divest fossil fuels from its investment pool as part of our overall sustainability initiatives and in alignment with our social justice mission.
  • We created the state's first master's program in clean and renewable energy (2008) and created a minor in sustainability, energy and the environment (2010).
  • At the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, we gave 100 bicycles to incoming first-year students who signed a pledge not to bring a car to campus for their first two years.
  • We are included in The Princeton Review's Guide to 322 Green Colleges, and we have signed the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, committing the University to be carbon neutral by 2050.
  • In 2010, the University became a charter participant in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education's program to publicly report sustainability efforts in education and research, operations, and planning, administration and engagement. Earlier this year, we achieved a silver rating in the association's Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) for its sustainability achievements.
  • All new construction on campus will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)(R)-certified.
  • A series of green initiatives during the 2009-10 school year helped us save more than $600,000 and reduced our natural gas use that year 5.7 percent and electric energy use 4.8 percent.
  • We instituted one of the largest university food composting efforts in the nation in 2009 and have diverted more than 1,000 tons of waste from landfills.
  • The von Ohain Fuels & Combustion Center has a six-year, $49.5 million grant with the U.S. Air Force to help develop clean, alternative fuels from various feed stocks such as coal, biomass and algae; enhance engine fuel efficiency; reduce combustion-generated emissions; and investigate the environmental impact of fossil fuels use.
  • University researchers also developed an outdoor algae production system capable of capturing carbon emissions and producing oil for alternative fuels with a five-year, $3.4 million award from the Air Force.


News and Communications Staff