The Collegian
Thursday, August 06, 2020

Green spiders rejoice: Richmond appoints its first Director of Sustainability

<p>While working at Penn State, Rob Andrejewski became one with nature -- literally -- when a bird decided his head would make a nice resting spot. <em>Photo courtesy of </em><em>Jeremy Bean.</em></p>

While working at Penn State, Rob Andrejewski became one with nature -- literally -- when a bird decided his head would make a nice resting spot. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Bean.

After an eight-month process, University of Richmond has hired Rob Andrejewski as its first Director of Sustainability.

Andrejewski will handle the university’s operational sustainability goals, as well as collaborate with students and faculty members and help integrate sustainability into academic curriculums.

The university previously had a manager for sustainability, Megan Litke, who moved to Washington, D.C. last summer to accept a position at American University, and the ­search for her replacement began toward the end of the 2014 fall semester.

David Hale, the vice president for business and finance at Richmond, and Emilie Rex, a sustainability professional, collaborated and redesigned the manager position description to transform it into a director’s position.

“We were looking for a person to provide the campus some thought and leadership on sustainability,” Hale said. “We conducted a national search and we were fortunate enough to bring Rob on board.”

Andrejewski has had numerous experiences with sustainability work and was previously the outreach and education coordinator at the office for sustainability at the University of Virginia.

The new director has a responsibility with the provost, Hale said. Rex and Hale wanted to clearly signal that Andrejewski’s job was linked with the academic enterprise. Andrejewski will not only be responsible for managing operational sustainability issues; he will also assist faculty members with the integration of sustainability into academic curriculums.

Andrejewski, who is now finishing his first month working at Richmond, said he is mostly excited about working with the students.

“My goal is to have students demand so much of me that I have to expand the number of people in my office,” Andrejewski said. “I want that problem.”

Andrejewski said he believes that the biggest impact the Office of Sustainability can have is in the education of students.

“A liberal arts education is essential in addressing the problems that we have because we need to address biodiversity loss from multiple perspectives,” Andrejewski said. “We need people who know how to communicate with one another, people who can understand interconnections and who can really critically think about proposals.”

It is specifically important for the humanities to be integrated into sustainability solutions, he said.

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“It can’t just be scientist and engineers, it needs to be everybody,“ Andrejewski said.

University of Richmond currently provides students with various opportunities in sustainability, including student-led Green UR and initiatives such as the Eco-Olympics, which is an energy and waste-reducing competition across different residence halls on campus.

There are also already various courses in different departments at the university that focus on sustainability issues, including the course “Eating Locally, Thinking Globally,” which was introduced this year as part of a Sophomore Scholars in Residence program.

Andrejewski wants to keep getting familiar with these initiatives and work with students and faculty members. His aim is to educate the college campus so that students will be able to work to find solutions to biodiversity loss and global climate change issues.

“We’re really good at recognizing problems,” Andrejewski said, “but we’re not that great right now at solving problems. We need to educate our students so that they can go out and solve these problems.”

Contact reporter Maria Eugenia Fernandez at mariaeugenia.fernandez@richmond.edu

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