New Solar Array Will Provide a Third of Campus Power

New Solar Array Will Provide a Third of Campus Power

The new solar array to cover five acres west of campus



The solar array outside the Patanjali Golden Dome



The Sustainable Living Center uses solar arrays for electricity and can supply its own energy needs



The campus wind turbine

Construction is set to begin this summer on a five-acre field of solar panels on MUM land west of the recreational trail that borders the west side of campus. The 1.1-megawatt solar array will provide approximately one-third of the electricity used on campus and will be connected by an underground cable to the university’s substation.

The state-of-the-art solar panels will move to follow the path of the sun during the day. Excess energy will be stored in a battery bank for use during the night and during times of peak energy needs. The array will be one of Iowa’s largest, and the battery energy storage system will be the largest of its kind in the Midwest.

“This project is the culmination of years of design, engineering, and planning work by the local Fairfield solar company Ideal Energy together with university trustee Tom Factor,” said Tom Brooks, MUM vice president of operations.

Mr. Factor is a retired wind energy developer and researcher who has led the development of over 40 utility-scale wind farms. Ideal Energy, a leading solar company headed by MUM alumni Troy Van Beek and Amy Greenfield Van Beek, focuses on smart, scalable solar deployment.

The project, which will cost over $2 million and will be owned by an independent company, is being funded by private investment and by a loan from MUM that was made possible by donations, including grants from the Wege Foundation and the Schwartz Family Foundation. In addition, the Rona and Jeffrey Abramson Foundation and the MUM graduating classes of 2016 and 2017 made donations to support the pre-development costs for the project.

The array, which will take about two months to complete, is projected to lower MUM’s cost of electricity by about a third over its 25-year life, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In addition to the new array, MUM has a smaller array on the terrace west of the men’s dome, and a solar installation on the roof of the Schwartz-Guich Sustainable Living Center. Plus, a wind turbine south of the Sustainable Living Center also provides power to the campus.

Add these local sustainable sources to the fact that Alliant Energy, which provides electricity to campus, gets about 15 percent of its electricity from wind farms. The result is that over 43 percent of the university’s electricity will be from sustainable sources once the new array is complete this summer.

MUM continues to progress toward the goal of being a carbon-neutral campus and meeting the commitments the university has made to The American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and to the Paris Climate Initiative.

“This new solar field is a big step forward in that continuing effort to promote life in accord with natural law,” Mr. Brooks said.

Younes Kouider—The Effortless Artistic Quest

Younes Kouider—The Effortless Artistic Quest

Younes smelling neroli flowers in Algeria before collecting them for distillation

Preparing his model for the runway to present his collection at the 2014 EcoJam fashion show in Fairfield

Working on his portfolio at the MUM art studio


Playing music with his brother Amine and Karen Aoki, both MUM faculty

MUM student Younes Kouider has always been an artist. Taking after his father, who illustrated children’s books, Younes started making art as a young child. He also has been playing music most of his life. His family practices the Transcendental Meditation® technique, so Younes came to MUM at 18, following his older brother Amine.

When he first enrolled at MUM in 2010, Younes pursued a BFA and graduated in 2014. Then he returned home to Algeria to manage the family’s essential oil manufacturing business while his parents worked in Tunisia. For three years, Younes learned about botanicals and oil distillation and even introduced soap-making to the business.

In 2017 Younes learned about MUM’s new MA in studio artprogram, which allows students to focus on artistic exploration and create a substantial body of quality work. When his parents returned to Algeria to take over the business, Younes was able to come back to MUM in February, 2018.

“I love this school so much,” said Younes. “There is something magical about it. And the experience of Transcendental Meditation helps so much in the studio. When you have deep meditations in the morning and in the afternoon, your artistic quest is so much easier. Your emotions are settled, your senses become more refined, and you know exactly what to do. It’s effortless.”

Younes is grateful for his art teachers who are guiding him in creating a consistent portfolio, which he can use to apply for an MFA program. In his free time, he enjoys playing music with his brother Amine and other musicians.

Younes has also been involved with Enlightened Leadership International, the next generation of leaders to support the TM organization, and he hopes to participate in charitable work on behalf of the organization.

ChangeMakers Conference Inspires New Wave of Student Engagement

ChangeMakers Conference Inspires New Wave of Student Engagement

Members of the MUM Student Government with Bob Roth and Michael Sternfeld of the David Lynch Foundation and Dr. Jeffrey Abramson chairman of the MUM Board of Trustees


Dalby Hall filled with over 300 students


Keynote speaker Father Mejia on stage (center) with his translator (left) and Bob Roth (right), David Lynch Foundation CEO


Guest speakers Daron Murphy, Nakisha Hobbs, Laura Dawn, Barry “Ra” Frye, Carmen Terrones, and Dusty Baxley
(photos by Werner Elmker)


MUM President Dr. John Hagelin gave the closing remarks

Last month MUM held the inaugural conference of ChangeMakers: Disruptors Transforming the World for Good. Hosted by MUM, the David Lynch Foundation, and the Abramson Center for Peace, the event was attended by 600 people, at least half of them students, who completely filled Dalby Hall.

MUM Student Government took a leading role in helping event producer Michael Sternfeld make the event more student-centered. They also launched ChangeMaking Month—a series of workshops, art displays, films, and an open mic. The series included a four-part workshop by Dylene Cymraes, an MUM student who is an experienced facilitator and the author of multiple books.

“The ChangeMakers Committee decided that weekly workshops directed toward helping students find their passion, mission, and action steps would help raise awareness of the big event weekend.” said Cris Evergreen, Student Body president. “We wanted to let students know that Student Government supports them in being the changemakers they want to be.”

In addition to listening to speakers like Father Gabriel Mejia, David Lynch, and Laura Dawn, students had the chance to interact with the guests during an afternoon round robin discussion. One of the highlights of the conference was David Lynch’s Skype call, which took the form of a Q&A session allowing students to ask him about exploring creativity and pursuing passion.

According to Karen Ballinger, Student Body vice president, students were inspired by the event, which immediately boosted participation in student activities and clubs, including the formation of new clubs and organizations such as the Growth of Consciousness Student Organization. One student, Corine Brooks, became so inspired by guest speaker Barry “Ra” Frye that she organized a successful follow-up visit for him and his youth group, Chicago Pride ROC.

Student Government is working with DLF on planning the next biannual event and hopes to contribute activities that will further increase active student engagement as well as showcase changemaking students.

Learn more about the speakers and watch the replay of the conference here.