As the next step in its on-going commitment to the environment, Centre College will begin a national search for a director of sustainability, a new position at the 200-year-old institution that will serve as a nexus for a number of campus departments and offices.
Brett Werner, associate professor of environmental studies, will oversee the effort in his role as chair of the President’s Climate Commitment Advisory Committee (PCCAC), the group that will function as the search committee.
“Campus sustainability has a key role to play across campus,” said Werner, “not the least of which involves attention to campus infrastructure and the ways in which our students, staff and faculty impact the environment.”
He added that with numerous important initiatives underway—from lighting and energy retrofits to addressing food waste and improving the sourcing of sustainable food and energy products on campus—the new director “will be charged not only with helping lead these efforts but also with telling the stories of all these actions, so that prospective and current students and alumni know what Centre has been doing.”
Housed in the Office of Finance and reporting to CFO Brian Hutzley, the College’s new green czar will advise and support facilities management and the offices of academic affairs, admission and communication.
Hutzley said that with the approaching retirement of Centre College President John Roush on June 30, the longtime campus leader can look back over nearly 22 years and be proud of numerous accomplishments in the area of sustainability.
Indeed, during Roush’s two decades-plus at Centre, the campus has grown in numerous ways, expanding its enrollment by 50 percent, adding acreage and growing the physical plant through more than $125 million in new and renovated building projects.
Hutzley listed as examples of Roush’s leadership being an early signatory to the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment founded in 2006, the several LEED-certified buildings constructed during his tenure, and the creation of the Air Travel Mitigation and Green Revolving funds.
At the same time, many of Centre’s sustainability efforts have not only helped reduce the College’s carbon footprint but also achieved cost savings. Recent lighting retrofits are a case in point, since more efficient products will save significant resources.
“We have taken a holistic and thoughtful approach to a number of actions,” concluded Hutzley, “and we are excited to have our new director of sustainability build on these accomplishments.”
Roush credits several people for Centre’s success.
He begins with his wife, Susie, who for decades has been a staunch advocate for sustainability. Roush also singles out Preston Miles, the John H. Walkup Professor of Chemistry Emeritus, whom Werner succeeded, for his leadership as the first chair of PCCAC, along with Director of Facilities Management Wayne King and his staff.
“Centre has made great progress at becoming more sustainable,” Roush said, “but we now see the need for a position solely focused on continuing to push the campus toward carbon mitigation, green buildings, renewable energy, waste reduction and recycling, and sustainable food systems.”
Roush envisions the new director of sustainability to be the kind of person “who can help lead Centre to further decrease the college’s environmental impact, along with promoting and explaining the numerous ways that Centre is already leading the way in environmental sustainability.”
Building on a longstanding tradition of broad campus involvement, the new director will find that Centre students are eager to continue working as researchers, interns and student workers in support of sustainability.
“In the last few years alone,” said Werner, “we have had students investigating all kinds of campus sustainability measures in classes and as part of summer research projects.”
In Karin Young’s Alternative Energy Technologies class, for instance, Jakob Spitzer ’20 and Patrick Ferrell ’20 studied energy usage and conservation measures in campus buildings, and they continued that research in their senior seminar project on electricity usage and solar power.
Following their work in Jean Faye’s Agroecology classes and Kaelyn Wiles’ Sociology of Food and Agriculture classes, Ana Gabriela Mira ’20 spent her senior seminar investigating food waste reduction and Abigail Harper ’20 worked to decrease single-use plastic cups and bottles on campus. As well, Bailey Vernon ’20 and Shannon Russell ’20 investigated the efforts of the athletics and facilities management offices to minimize Centre’s environmental impact while simultaneously saving money.
A job description for the new Director of Sustainability position will soon be available here.
by Michael Strysick
February 27, 2019