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Unity College President Stephen Mulkey featured speaker at AASHE Conference, Oct. 6-9

Posted Sept. 29, 2013, at 2:34 p.m.
Unity College President Stephen Mulkey
Unity College President Stephen Mulkey

UNITY, Maine Unity College President Stephen Mulkey will be among the featured speakers at the American Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference Oct. 6-9, in Nashville, Tenn. This year’s conference theme is resilience and adaptation.

President Mulkey will offer a presentation on organizational leadership for sustainability education at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 7, at Nashville Music City Center.

As president of Unity College, Stephen Mulkey is a champion of sustainability science, which he sees as the defining framework for academic programming at Unity College. In just under two years, he has set an agenda for the college that is bold and visionary, driven by ethical imperatives that he feels are non-negotiable. In November 2012, the Unity College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to divest from investment in fossil fuels. As the first college in the nation to do so, Unity provided a measure of leadership that is unrivaled.

Prior to setting Unity’s agenda for initiating the spark to encourage higher education to take a stand on the mitigation of global climate change through the first step of divesting from investment in fossil fuels, Mulkey organized the college’s academics with a forward thinking approach. He pivoted the curriculum to focus on the “what’s next” of environmentalism, sustainability science, and the transdisciplinary (collaborative) approach to ecological problem solving.

Since his arrival, accolades have followed, including multiple “green” architecture awards for the design (student/faculty and staff collaboration with award-winning green architecture firm GO Logic of Belfast, Maine) and building of TerraHaus, the first college residence hall in the United States built to the Passive House standard, today’s highest energy rating.

As a scholar of the interdisciplinary literature in climate change and sustainability, Mulkey is an active public interpreter of climate change science. As an expert climate change scientist with study spanning over three decades he has pursued research on the functional ecology of forests in Eastern Amazonia, tropical forest canopies in wet and dry forests of Central Panama, and tropical alpine rosette species in East Africa.  Mulkey’s book, “Tropical Forest Plant Ecophysiology,” takes readers out of the laboratory and into the humid tropical forests exploring the most recent advances and important insights into the behavior of tropical plants.

From 2008 through 2011, Mulkey was a faculty member at the University of Idaho and served as director of the program in environmental science. In this role, he led a grant proposal initiative obtaining National Science Foundation funding for the creation of a new professional science master’s degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. In addition and with major funding from NASA, he directed a statewide project focused on climate change education.

From 1996 to 2008, he served as a tenured faculty member in the University of Florida’s Department of Botany and as a research associate with the School of Forest Resources and Conservation. He also served as director of research and outreach/extension for the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Florida, and as a science advisor to the Century Commission for a Sustainable Florida.

Mulkey co-founded and directed the International Center for Tropical Ecology, a nationally ranked graduate training and conservation program during his tenure at the University of Missouri in St. Louis. He also worked for many years as a research associate for the Smithsonian Institution, Tropical Research Institute. Mulkey holds a bachelor’s degree in fisheries and wildlife, a master’s degree in ecology, and earned his doctorate’s degree in ecology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986.

Follow President Mulkey on Twitter @prezmulkeyunity

Unity College has repeatedly received superior placement in the Washington Monthly magazine annual college rankings, including being named among the top baccalaureate colleges in 2013.

Unity College is a private college in rural Maine that provides dedicated, engaged students with a liberal arts education that emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Unity College graduates are prepared to be environmental stewards, effective leaders, and responsible citizens through active learning experiences within a supportive community.

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