The Collegian
Thursday, August 06, 2020

Richmond seeks sustainability director

A new director will help the university go green

Much goes into being a green spider, and University of Richmond is hoping to expand its environmental efforts as it looks to hire a new director of sustainability.

"This is not a job that's just greening the UR campus," said David Hale, vice president for business and finance. Hale, who directly oversees the university's Office of Sustainability, said he had a "broader vision" for the position, namely moving beyond management to connecting the theory and practice of sustainability to as much of the university's work as possible. "It's not simply about recycling," Hale said.

The roles of university sustainability coordinators nationwide are still evolving, Hale said. He and Emilie Rex, temporary sustainability coordinator, spent most of the semester meeting with faculty, staff and students to help craft the position description. The new director would start in January.

"I think we're in a really exciting period of transition here at UR," Rex said. Rex named the founding of two student sustainability-focused groups, a sustainability internship program and an initiative to help faculty integrate sustainability into their courses as highlights of Richmond's efforts toward being environmentally conscious. These endeavors were led by former director of sustainability Megan Zanella-Litke, who left in July after four years at Richmond. She is now the sustainability manager at American University.

Senior Leslie Kinnas, president of Greeks Going Green, hopes for a new director who is committed to engaging all members of the university community. "Sustainability on this campus is definitely a group effort," she said. "It's crucial to have a good relationship with those involved not only in academia, but also in facilities, landscaping, dining and so on.”

University of Richmond's sustainability efforts date back to November 2007, when newly inaugurated president Ed Ayers signed the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment. The university hired its first sustainability coordinator, Trey McDonald, in April 2009, and in 2010 the Board of Trustees approved its Climate Action Plan for Richmond to become completely carbon neutral by 2050.

"Students should be proud of how committed UR is to sustainability," Rex said.

Contact reporter Ben Panko at ben.panko@richmond.edu

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