Quinn to meet with UI green leaders

By Masha Stul

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will visit the University on Wednesday afternoon for the first time as governor. He is expected to sign the Illinois Sustainable University Compact and engage student leaders and faculty in a discussion focusing on environmental sustainability.

The Compact sets goals of developing sustainable transportation options, incorporating green building practices in campus construction, improving water conservation and using renewable energy sources. Fifty other Illinois colleges and universities have already committed to reaching these goals by 2010.

Quinn plans to meet University of Illinois President B. Joseph White, Chancellor Richard Herman, the Board of Trustees and environmental student activists at the Business Instructional Facility at 3 p.m. He is expected to give a brief speech, join the administrators in a signing ceremony, tour the Institute for Genomic Biology and arrive at the Assembly Hall in time for the basketball game.

“I’m not completely environmentally conscious, but I am for all issues that help sustain the environment,” said Jackie Jones, junior in LAS. “But I’d rather (his first visit) be focused on Illinois job market and the economy of Illinois at this point.”

Brian Dolinar, lecturer in LAS, said he sees a connection between economic issues and environmental sustainability.

“We need real job programs for a green economy that will include minorities and the poor that have been shut out from economic system,” he said.

The visit’s focus on environmental sustainability is consistent with Quinn’s enduring history of involvement in this issue, said Richard Warner, director of the Office of Sustainability.

“He was talking about green jobs well before that became a widely recognized area for potential future growth,” he added.

In recent years, Quinn has championed a variety of environmental sustainability policies regarding natural resource conservation, energy efficiency and citizen engagement.

Leading the effort to develop an Energy Independence Plan for Illinois and chairing the Illinois River Coordinating Council are just two examples.

Suhail Barot, graduate student in Engineering and chair of the Student Sustainability Committee, said Quinn pushed for the revitalization of the wind turbine project while he was Lt. governor.

Quinn asked Chancellor Herman to sign the Illinois Sustainable University Compact in a letter on Jan. 15.