Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.35
Liaison Christa Rieck
Submission Date Nov. 23, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

University of Houston
EN-14: Participation in Public Policy

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Gabriel Durham
Graduate assistant
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution advocate for national, state/provincial, or local public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

The University of Houston System Office of Governmental Relations coordinates the efforts of the four UHS universities to advance the priorities of the system and its individual institutions through collaborations with elected officials, administrative agencies and community organizations. The UH Office of Governmental Relations has a permanent Austin Office, fully staffed during legislative sessions, to serve as the University's "ear to the ground" during legislative decisions. The information collected by this office greatly affects the universities internal reactions to external policy. Emphasizing an engaged and comprehensive approach, the office focuses on establishing collaborative partnerships within the community, implementing a proactive external affairs program and maintaining mutually productive relationships with government entities.

On the federal level, the University of Houston hires the lobby group Akin Gump to lobby for the support of Education and Energy at the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, Department of Energy, and Department of the Interior. Further governmental support for bills relating to these positions is vital for sustainability; in higher education particularly. Furthermore, Akin Gump has active corporate social responsibility and sustainability components (www.akingump.com/en/our-firm/sustainability.html).

Faculty and staff also engage in governmental committees and offer expert testimony, particularly on education and the energy industry. Detailed examples are given below.

A brief description of other political positions the institution has taken during the previous three years:

As a public institution, the University of Houston maintains a nonpartisan position but engages in the political process by means of advocacy and expert testimony.

A recent example on the federal level, Dr. Ramanan Krishnamoorti, acting vice president/vice chancellor for research and technology transfer at the University of Houston, gave testimony before Congress about an innovative workforce training program developed for the energy industry. Krishnamoorti, who also is chief energy officer at UH, also addressed the Energy and Power subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Dr. Krishnamoorti was asked to testify about the new program at a hearing that focused on the 21st century energy workforce, in conjunction with legislation proposed by subcommittee member U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois. Rush has proposed a bill to improve training for energy-related jobs, with an emphasis on increasing the number of skilled minorities and women in the industry. Krishnamoorti even made clear that the program developed by UH, working with area community colleges and members of industry, can be replicated by other higher education institutions once it has been demonstrated and assessed here.

In regards to city governance, throughout 2014, Dr. Barry Lefer (former Associate Department Chair and Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at UH) served as a member for the "One Bin for All" Mayor's Advisory committee. Primarily an effort to have all city trash and recycling processed in a single stream fashion, the panel also provided expertise to the City regarding financing, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, environmental justice and outreach and education issues as part of the City's efforts to significantly increase its waste diversion.

A brief description of political donations the institution made during the previous three years (if applicable):

As a public institution, the University of Houston does not make political donations. However, University of Houston affiliates support lobbying for the advancement of education and energy policy; described above.

The website URL where information about the institution’s advocacy efforts is available:

Press Release on UH faculty in US Congress: http://www.uh.edu/news-events/stories/2015/April/0422KrishnamoortiCongress.php

Press Release on UH Faculty Apointment to Mayors Waste Innovation Advisory Committee: http://www.houstontx.gov/onebinforall/rfp2014.html

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