University of Minnesota Morris

Student Leadership

  • Sustainability at Morris
  • Sustainability at Morris
  • Sustainability at Morris
  • Sustainability at Morris
  • Sustainability at Morris
  • Sustainability at Morris

Student leadership is the cornerstone of our sustainability work and policies at Morris. In fact, our sustainability efforts began with students. In the early 2000’s, students asked the administration to begin the switch to renewable energy by purchasing a portion of the campus electricity from a renewable provider.

The University leadership challenged the students to find a way to offset the extra cost of the renewable power by coming up with equal cost savings at the college.

The students responded overwhelmingly. They began conserving water and energy—in their residences and elsewhere—and increased recycling, saving Morris thousands of dollars.

More than that, they inspired the administration to ask: Are we doing enough? That question has led to over a decade of progress in sustainability at Morris, and the commitment to do more. Morris is highly regarded for its sustainability efforts, thanks to the inspiration of our students to continually improve our environmental performance.

Students lead the way on campus

Green building

The campus policy to promote LEED building standards grew out of a student-led initiative. The first LEED Gold building was the historic Welcome Center, which is both a high performance building and on the Register of Historic Places. The new Green Prairie Community is LEED Gold certified, and all new construction will meet LEED guidelines.


Students have now researched and implemented a new composting initiative to reduce campus waste.


The Morris recycling program is student led. The campus recycles aluminum, tin, plastic, glass, and electronics waste as well as cardboard, glossy paper, office paper, and newsprint. Disposable plates and cutlery are made from biodegradable starch. Recycling revenue partially funds student workers at the recycling center. Composting efforts are diverting tons of food waste from the landfill.

Powering down

Morris students led the effort to install VendingMisers® on refrigerated vending machines. The devices automatically power down the machines when they are not in active use, cutting energy consumption by more than 40 percent.


Each year, the Studio Art Discipline sponsors Fashion Trashion , an annual upcycle fashion show where students reuse and repurpose materials into chic and funky designs.

Students also run the organic garden on campus, have leadership roles in the Morris Healthy Eating program, and act as Green Ambassadors, leading sustainability tours of the Morris campus for visitors and prospective students.

Individual students have taken full advantage of the opportunities in sustainability, doing research and hands-on conservation projects.

The combination of students’ research, student-led championing of sustainability causes, and the promise of their future impact will continue to be one of the most important legacies in sustainability at Morris.