For James May, Sustainability Helps Improve Life for All at Widener

Community Awareness. Lowering tuition costs. Maintaining resources for other people. These were ideas that I don’t recall hearing often in past general meetings I’ve been to.

Yet, these were the operating words that took charge of a workshop presentation the Student Government Association hosted during their first general meeting for the semester on Tuesday, Feb. 2.


James R. May, Widener University’s recently-appointed chief sustainability officer and guest speaker for the evening, started the presentation by asking students what environmental challenges they knew of. Michael Dixon ’17, one of the SGA’s senators, pointed to a garbage refinery in Chester.

“I know that on the west side of Chester, the air’s bad,” said Mr. Dixon, who’s also a Chester resident. “No matter what you do, drive, walk, it’s reeking of trash.”

During the evening, he discussed some of the environmental problems that plagued the world, such as climate change, on a global and regional level, in addition to the lack of laws and policies in the United States that addresses it.

May encouraged the audience to discuss the solutions that should be implemented for the university by working in teams with different SGA senators. One group suggested using solar panels, and having  professors allow students to use computers for note-taking in class, so to cut down on paper costs. Another group suggested a rain-garden, and to petition the government to stop bringing incinerators to cities.

The addition of a chief sustainability officer comes at an important time, as climate change is becoming a greater concern for people. A Wilmington, Del., resident, and Widener Law professor, May states that while sustainability’s not the answer to all environmental problems, “it’s a way of utilizing resources available now for the benefit of others.”

By: Khalil Williams '16

Khalil Williams is a communication studies major from Chester, Pa.

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