Sustainability for Universities Should Start at the Top

  • By: OnBoard Meetings
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Sustainability for UniversitiesAs the academic year begins to wind down, computer labs in universities across the county will begin humming, churning out essays and reports. These institutions have implemented policies aimed at curbing the volume of paper consumed by their students. Online homework and emailing papers were good first steps; steps that have been complimented by imposing a hard cap on how much paper students consume during a semester.

Yet, for all the work universities have done to reduce the amount of paper used across campus, it’s strange that leadership — socially conscience governing bodies — continues apace, printing board book after board book. One hundred pages here, one hundred pages there, ten board books for this meeting, year after year. It adds up. One forest at a time, I suppose.

Shouldn’t sustainability, real leadership, start from the top? From the president, to the board of trustees, down to the administration. If not for the sake of the environment, then to halt the soaring cost of tuition, the overhead in both supplies and labor that go on behind the scenes. It’s more than most might think: mail, storage, disposing, recycling, delivery, the salaries of executive assistants, not to mention the always ridiculously priced ink.

This is, in the year 2015, nothing but wasteful; if not unsurprising. I was recently told by Joe Inskeep, a leader in the governance policy industry, that “actually, even though boards are perched at the top of the organizational house, they’ve been slow to innovate. Remarkably so.” It is then perhaps the excuse of insolated tradition that has led to the current state of affairs. But it doesn’t need to be this way. We have developed the technology to rid ourselves of this problem. A problem that impacts finances and forests.

iPads have rippled through the education industry faster than any technological hardware innovation in recent memory. Part of that is Apple’s storied history with the industry, anyone who spent time in a primary school in the 1990s will remember a sea of fluorescent iMacs. But significantly, it’s their radical ability to supplement the traditional pen and paper paradigm that has for so long defined what we think of as learning — what we think of as work.

The solution was to develop software that combined decades of technological innovation with the necessary security to supplement the last rationale of paper. We built our board portal software OnBoard because we believed technology-driven meetings could operate seamlessly, far better than paper. We designed a platform to intuitively create, update, and distribute paperless board books with just a few clicks of the mouse. We created an iPad app so board members without a technical background could easily navigate, annotate, and search their board books during their meeting or when on the go. We eliminated the need for paper in the last place it still survived, where it was hiding in plain sight.

So there’s only one question left if your university is still using paper, why? Sustainability starts from the top down. When you press on your students and staff to reduce their waste, you should make the same effort. The tools exists, we have an answer. It’s time to make the switch. If not because each tree that falls stirs you to action, then because you may as well be burning another kind of paper, cash money.

About The Author

OnBoard Meetings
OnBoard Meetings
At OnBoard, we believe board meetings should be informed, effective, and uncomplicated. That’s why we give boards and leadership teams an elegant solution that simplifies governance. With customers in higher education, nonprofit, health care systems, government, and corporate enterprise business, OnBoard is the leading board management provider.