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Corporation approves new site for performing arts center

Meetings discuss emissions reductions plans, review DIAP progress

The Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, approved a new site for the proposed performing arts center and discussed environmental and climate initiatives, including paths to net zero emissions, at the Corporation meetings May 24 and 25.

The Corporation approved the new performing arts center site between Angell and Olive Streets, following controversy surrounding the previously proposed site. The earlier proposal included the demolition of four buildings, including the Urban Environmental Lab. The newly approved smaller site will require the relocation of Sharpe House on Angell Street, but spares the buildings from demolition, The Herald previously reported.

The Corporation vote comes on the heels of the Providence City Plan Commission’s decision to approve the revised development proposal for the new center, according to a University press release.

Corporation members also heard from Associate Provost for Academic Space Leah VanWey and Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Environment and Society Stephen Porder — the co-chairs of the sustainability study committee — who outlined a plan to develop an off-site renewable energy project and reduce University emissions, according to a University-wide email. These two goals are part of a larger plan bring the University to net-zero emissions, according to a University press release.

The discussions revolved around three categories of emissions: Scope 1, which includes all fossil fuels burned by the University; Scope 2, which includes the consumption of electricity purchased by the University; and Scope 3, which includes greenhouse gasses burned by those involved with the University, such as faculty and student travel energy, according to the press release. The outline of the plan discussed at the Corporation meetings seeks to create net zero Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, according to the email.

The University recently solicited a series of plans to develop the off-site renewable energy source, which would strive to produce 95,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually and account for 70 to 100 percent of the University’s electricity consumption, according to the press release. VanWey and Porder will evaluate the proposals and hope to make a selection by August.

In fall 2018, VanWey and Porder will be part of the team that aims to submit a timeline and series of goals to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions to the Corporation for approval during its fall meeting, according to the University-wide email. The committees involved in these projects will also continue to assess ways to measure and offset Scope 3 emissions, according to the email.

The Corporation also reviewed the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan second annual report, which assessed the progress in goals outlined in the DIAP created two years ago, as The Herald previously reported. About $50 million was raised to increase the hiring of faculty from historically underrepresented groups and $41.7 million was raised for DIAP initiatives, according to a University press release.

In addition, the Corporation accepted more than $51 million in gifts and pledges. This included the approval of the creation of several endowed positions, including the Mencoff Family Directorship for the Brown Institute for Translational Science and the Mencoff Family University Professorship in Translational Science, according to the email.

The Corporation also elected three new Trustees. Viet Nguyen ’17, a former University Council of Students president, was elected by current students and recent alums as a New Alumni Trustee, according to the email. Further, the Corporation approved 19 new faculty chairs.


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