Working on the school president’s water conservation task force has spurred Aaron Fowler to think locally and act locally, too.
The 2003 Effingham County High School grad is running for president of the graduate student body at Georgia Tech, and the election will run from today through Friday.
“I’ve never run for anything else,” said Fowler, the son of Talbert and Roni Edenfield.
Last year, Fowler served on the Georgia Tech president’s water conservation task force, and the campus cut its water use by 20 percent. His time on that board spurred him to run for the office.
“It helped me jump into this faster than a lot of graduate students,” he said.
Fowler earned his bachelor’s degree in public policy in 2006 and is working on a master’s in city and regional planning. He also is an at-large graduate senator.
But getting Tech’s student body to notice anything other than the book in front of them — the school has more than 12,300 undergraduate students and almost 6,200 graduate students — is no easy feat.
“They’re not known for being involved,” Fowler said. “It’s been really difficult. There are not as many groups for graduate students. It’s hard to reach out past my major.”
He has a Web site — www.VoteFowler.com — and he also wants to see the school expand its recycling program. His time on the water conservation task force showed him how much of an impact Tech has and can have in Atlanta. All new Georgia Tech buildings are LEEDS certified, he said, meaning they meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.
“There are a lot of environmental and conservation issues,” he said.
Planks in his campaign platform also include reducing health insurance costs for graduate students and increasing student meeting space.
Fowler also believes the lessons he’s learned from his time on the water conservation task force can be applied to his hometown.
“Atlanta’s growth has been so fast. I think it caught a lot of people off guard,” he said. “Honestly, it relates a lot to Effingham and the growth we’ve experienced. We have to be careful and not make the mistakes Atlanta made.”
Fowler also has worked with the planning departments in Effingham and Fayette counties and with the state Department of Transportation. He’s in the graduate co-op program, working 40 hours a week and his employer pays his tuition.
He will work for the Atlanta Regional Commission this summer.
“I’m pretty excited,” he said.
Should he be elected, Fowler also may be asked for input from a student’s perspective on the next Georgia Tech president. Dr. Wayne Clough, a Tech grad who has been in charge for 13 years, has led Tech to be named the No. 7 public university in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Clough is leaving to be the secretary, the top position, of the Smithsonian Institution in July.
Fowler said Tech may look for the same qualities in the next leader — a strong leader who is outspoken in the science and technology community — as the current one possesses.
“That will be a cool opportunity to see Georgia Tech get a new president,” Fowler said. “The last 10-20 years, Tech has jumped up in prestige and ranking, and that has had a lot to do with Dr. Clough.”