Samford University dedicated its new Vulcan Materials Center for Environmental Stewardship and Education Thursday (OCT. 10) with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony and lecture by a top government official.
Lynn Scarlett, assistant secretary of policy, management and budget, U.S. Department of the Interior, spoke on the topic "Alabama Business and Environmental Responsibility" to a group of state business and environmental leaders. Prior to joining the Bush administration in July 2001, Scarlett was president of the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation, a nonprofit current affairs research and communications organization. As director of the Reason Public Policy Institute, the policy research division of the Foundation, her research focused on environmental, land use and natural resources issues. At Samford, Scarlett called for new relationships between manufacturers and suppliers, between customers and producers, between business companies and their community hosts, and new relationships among companies. As an example of a new relationship between customers and producers, she suggested to "think lease rather than sell." Instead of replacing an entire carpet that has worn only in places, for instance, a consumer can arrange a lease arrangement in which carpet tiles are replaced as needed.
"It's all about reducing our environmental footprint," Scarlett said.
What this strategy means at the Department of the Interior, she said, is an emphasis on conservation, cooperation, communication and consultation.
The new Vulcan Materials Center was made possible through a $310,000 grant from the Vulcan Materials Company Foundation to establish a center to support academic programs, research, seminars and other activities in environmental studies.
The Vulcan Materials Center is located in Samford's $27 million Sciencenter, which opened in 2001 to house departments of biology, chemistry and physics. The environmental education area includes two laboratories, office space and work space. In addition, the Vulcan grant provides funding to support a visiting summer scholars program, a speaker series and a program administrator and grant writer.
Vulcan Materials Company, the nation's largest producer of construction aggregates such as crushed sand, stone and gravel, is a leader in responsible environmental stewardship. The company helped fund Samford's master of science in environmental management program in 1993.
"Our community is blessed to be the international headquarters of an outstanding, Fortune 500 company like Vulcan Materials," said Samford president Thomas E. Corts. "We are doubly blessed that Vulcan is a company whose leadership has had a strong tradition of sensitivity to environmental concerns."
"The gift of the Vulcan Materials Company Center for Environmental Stewardship and Education is the latest expression of the firm's concern for our natural world, and Samford University intends to be a good steward of the resources the new Center makes available," said Corts.