Honoring Sustainability in Word and Deed

When one says the word “sustainability,” environmental concerns frequently come to mind, but sustainability encompasses much more than working towards a greener world. This past year at Mount Mercy — and with plans for many years to come — we embraced the concept of sustainable living in more ways than one.

Sustainability ensures that what we hold dear grows and thrives. For a college campus, sustainability encompasses how an institution sustains — and builds upon — its curriculum and academic quality. Sustainability also includes how an institution of higher education maintains strong alumni support and a committed donor base. Sustaining strong professional development for its staff and faculty is a huge piece of how and why Mount Mercy is able to function on a daily basis. And it is imperative to sustain the vision, values, and mission of the institution. “Sustainability” truly touches every aspect of a college’s life.

In the creation story in Genesis, humankind was created last in the image of God — representing the summit of the created order. The responsibility for upholding the beauty of earth has been placed in our hands. Stewardship of the world is a fundamental part of the Judeo-Christian tradition of what it means to be human, and this lesson is a core aspect of a Mount Mercy education and one of the critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy. It can be argued — and rightfully so — that it has taken a while for the world to fully realize the solemn importance of our responsibility; we have the choice to either sustain or erode God’s creation. We alone have the ability to ensure that our earth flourishes or is irreparably damaged.

I would argue that people truly cannot flourish in today’s society without a formative education. And therefore, the core area of sustainability for a college and those it serves through education is its academic quality and rigor. This past year, Mount Mercy continued to push forward with several new initiatives despite the current economic situation. Our faculty continues to mentor students to reach their full potential, shaping graduates who enter the job market primed for success and buoyed by an understanding of service and their role in their communities. Sustaining students’ educational experiences adds to our loyal alumni base, creating a ripple effect of content alumni who continue to give back to the campus.

Mount Mercy has been able to thrive during one of the worst recessions in recent history. I am proud that we have been able to sustain jobs at Mount Mercy. Our faculty and staff have benefited from benchmarked compensation, ensuring that Mount Mercy remains a top, sought-after employer in the higher education marketplace. Because we have been able to maintain our strong professional and academic resources, we will also retain the ability to support our more than 1,600 students.

I invite you to explore within these pages how Mount Mercy’s strong academics, vibrant programs and loyal donor base have created a campus that is richly sustained in areas that go above and beyond environmental commitments. Mount Mercy resides on land that was once known as Mound Farm; the Sisters of Mercy has almost prescient knowledge 100 years ago that land and learning, earth and education, would shape Mount Mercy’s destiny. That ecological foundation could not be more fitting as we continue to honor sustainability in our work and mission.

Sustainably yours,
Christopher Blake, President