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Gonzaga Hosts Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference Feb. 16-17


Theme: ‘Caring for Our Common Home’

SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University will host the Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference Feb. 16-17 in the Hemmingson Center Ballroom. The public event is titled, “Caring for Our Common Home,” a reference to “Laudato Sí,” Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on the environment. Registration is $50 for students and $200 for nonstudents.

Gonzaga is committed to sustainability and is proud to host the conference, said Gonzaga’s Director of Sustainability Jim Simon. Faculty, staff and students from nearly 30 Northwest universities and leaders of sustainable businesses will present a wide variety of sessions on academics, engagement, leadership, and operations. Twenty Gonzaga students, faculty and administrative leaders will present on topics including student involvement, transportation, service-learning, and business.

“We are excited to welcome hundreds of participants from schools across the state of Washington and our region to learn, share and network around sustainability issues on our campuses, all while highlighting our institutional commitments to sustainability,” Simon said. “We look forward to celebrating our Jesuit, Catholic, humanistic practice of caring for creation with our campus colleagues.”

Gonzaga has been recognized numerous times for sustainability, most recently in the 2016 edition of the Princeton Review’s “Guide to 361 Green Colleges,” a ranking of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges.

Simon and Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh will open the conference Feb. 16 before a blessing from Melodi Wynne, a consultant for Spokane Tribal history and culture curriculum development. Educator, environmentalist, and author Mitch Thomashow will discuss “The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus,” the first keynote lecture.

Friday will begin with an early yoga session led by Lisa Silvestri, assistant professor of communication studies at Gonzaga and a certified yoga instructor, followed by a second keynote presentation from Beth Robinette, founder of Lazy R Ranch and co-founder of LINC Foods.

In 2015, Sierra magazine named Gonzaga to its “Cool Schools” list showcasing the nation’s greenest colleges and universities. In 2014, Gonzaga became the first U.S. Jesuit university to commit to the “Real Food Challenge,” a pledge that 25 percent of food served on campus will be sourced from ecologically sound, fair and humane, and local- and community-based providers by 2020. Gonzaga’s transformative new John J. Hemmingson Center  received the prestigious “Gold” certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system in 2015.

For more information and a full conference schedule, visit or contact Jim Simon at (509) 313-5571 and

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