November 27, 2014  

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Thinking Green Gets Even Brighter at Southern Miss

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Jonathan Williams

The University of Southern Mississippi is growing greener with the naming of Jonathan Williams as its new Chief Sustainability Officer.

A Hattiesburg native, Williams is presently a Visiting Professor in the College of Business. He plans to develop educational programming to prepare Southern Miss students for opportunities in the emerging “green industries” such as Stion, which recently announced its planned opening of a plant in the Hattiesburg Industrial Park manufacturing high-efficiency thin-film solar panels based on state-of-the-art materials and device technology.

“Southern Miss is in a unique place at a unique time,” explained Williams. “We can be at the forefront of the green industry; the perfect place at the perfect time with the vision to supply the south with necessary technical developments and graduates.”

Williams, who holds an undergraduate degree in economics from Duke University, a law degree from Washington University and an MBA from the Leonard Stern School of Business at New York University, says he welcomes the opportunities to assist Southern Miss is moving beyond “thinking green” to helping Southern Miss graduates develop critical skills to open and operate “green business” ventures, become employees in existing industries, and attract new technology businesses to the Pine Belt.

 “We plan to develop curriculum that mixes the bio-sciences with businesses courses so that Southern Miss graduates are able to contribute to the bio-diesel industry which is locating to our state; plus we want to partner with business and industry in using The Accelerator and our Center for Logistics, Trade and Transportation,” said Williams.

The past several years Williams has lived and worked in the San Francisco area. He is the co-founder of eMerging Careers Institute which is a training program to expose students to 21st century career opportunities through project-based learning and college courses. He created learning modules which incorporate science, finance, legal information and marketing.

“We are fortunate to have someone of Jonathan’s caliber to lead our efforts,” stated Southern Miss President Martha Saunders. “Having recently completed an ambitious Climate Action Plan, Southern Miss is leading the charge to the top in the area of environmental responsibility and sustainability.”

Southern Miss is one of the most environmentally responsible higher education facilities in the United States. It is the only Mississippi school cited by The Princeton Review’s 286 Green Colleges for its culture of sustainability. Saunders is one of 22 presidents and chancellors who sit on the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment(ACUPCC) steering committee which is the governing committee for the national campus green commitment. 

She signed the commitment on Earth Day 2008, which is one of the many reasons cited in crowning Southern Miss as one of the nation’s best.