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  • Genevieve Fontana

Canisius Eco-Hero: President Steve Stoute

By: Genevieve Fontana, Contributors

Steve Stoute of Canisius University said that he is enthusiastic about the institution's sustainable change-makers. As the president of the University, his main responsibility is to provide support to the faculty, staff and students. He considers spending time with the Canisius students as a source of energy and always prioritizes it on his to-do list. The theme of his presidency calls upon the entire Canisius community to RISE: Renew its commitment to justice; Inspire a new generation of leaders who challenge the status quo; Serve every person with love; and Empower others to act the same.

Stoute referenced Pedro Arrupe, S.J., in emphasizing Canisius’s goal of creating “men and women for and with others,” which is a core principle in Jesuit education. It expresses the idea that the purpose of education is not solely about individual achievement or personal success. Instead, it emphasizes the responsibility of educated individuals to use their knowledge, talents and skills to serve others and make a positive impact on the world.

When it comes to the environment, Stoute thinks we should step up and take action. Drawing from his experience at other universities, he has discovered that involving students in environmental matters is essential. Studies show that Generation Z is deeply worried about the planet and environmental issues.

ESG is an abbreviation for environmental, social and governance: it refers to a framework that businesses use to assess a company's sustainability and ethical impact. According to President Stoute, there is a division within the country regarding ESG. He suggests that we must challenge the status quo in order to become agents of change for our planet.

How is Canisius addressing the needs of the environment? Stoute says he believes that the faculty of Canisius provides an active learning approach to education, therefore inspiring Canisius University’s change-makers. Together with our partnership with our Buffalo community and Shaina Richardson, the recently appointed director of the New Buffalo Institute at Canisius University, environmental and social issues can be a priority. Connecting people through this will make an incredible impact.

He further points out that Dr. Jennifer Lodi-Smith, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs, leads the charge for greener life with Laudato Si’, the Vatican-led initiative that advises Catholic institutions on ways to achieve an eco-sustainable environment. Laudato Si’ goals are to respond to the cry of the Earth, respond to the cry of the poor, foster ecological economics, adopt a sustainable lifestyle, offering ecological education, develop ecological spirituality and support local communities. Paper accounts for around 26 percent of total waste at landfills. Stoute prefers to use index cards for his notes as he finds 8.5 x 11 paper to be wasteful. He proudly mentions the work of Janet Elis, the director of Dining Services for Chartwells Food Vendors, whose mission it is to prioritize environmental concerns. Additionally, clean energy powers most of our campus, according to Stoute. With the idea of “expanding our commitment to always do better,” Canisius seeks to have a positive impact on environmental sustainability.

Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, a dual-island Caribbean nation, Stoute immigrated to the United States in 2000 to attend Seton Hall University in New Jersey. When asked about the environmental cultural views of Trinidad versus the United States, his defining word was “moderation.” Abundance and bigger, he says, are not always better. We don’t need bigger. When we choose to live on less, it creates the potential to do much more for others.

In his own journey towards sustainability, Stoute tries to remember to use his reusable water bottle. All of his decisions on where and what he eats are intentional. At home, his children keep him honest about his choices. Thanks to their Catholic education, his daughters have gained a deep appreciation for environmental sustainability. They understand the significance of recycling, nurturing plant life, consuming fresh fruits and vegetables and safeguarding clean water. They even remind him to turn off the faucet when he's brushing his teeth.

With eco-hero President Stoute leading our school, we can, as educated individuals, use our knowledge, talents and skills to serve others and make a positive impact on the natural world.

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