The Collegian
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Sustainability banquet honors five UR community members

<p>Jenifer Sevin, professor of biology, poses with student after receiving a award recognizing her&nbsp;</p>

Jenifer Sevin, professor of biology, poses with student after receiving a award recognizing her 

Five University of Richmond students and faculty won awards for their dedication to making UR's campus more eco-friendly at the annual sustainability banquet on April 10.

Around 50 people gathered in the Jepson Alumni Center for the event. The event featured a keynote speaker, Brian Bell founder of Keep Virginia Cozy, who talked about his involvement in the sustainability movement and how people can get more involved.

Guests were invited to participate in a scavenger hunt, use cue cards found on their table to incite conversation and have a vegan dinner.

Bell founded  Keep Virginia Cozy, a  non-profit organization whose mission is to protect the land and preserve Virginia's rich nature. Keep Virginia Cozy has removed over 116,000 pounds of litter from public lands, Bell said.

“This work validates us collectively and creates a stronger sense of community. It helps us improve our connection to the world around us and truly keeps Virginia more cozy,” Bell said.

Professor of health studies Rick Mayes went to the event and enjoyed learning about all the sustainability projects on campus.

“I liked the topic and I’m trying to get more educated on how I can be more involved in it [sustainability], and honestly I just like the people involved,” Mayes said. “The leaders, the students and the faculty are people that I admire. I can’t imagine anything more important than sustainability.”

Director of Sustainability Rob Andrejewski stressed the importance of connections  between people working on different environmental projects.

“I think of building relationships as a secret to unlocking change, and I think sustainability as facilitating change. And really it all comes back to relationships,” Andrejewski said.

Three students out of 21 nominees were granted awards: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute student Tom Eliseuson, senior Carly Kessler and senior Megan Salters. 

Eliseuson was recognized for adding 2,175 trees to the UR tree mapping project database. Kessler was thanked for her dedication to sustainability at UR with those who nominated her calling her the most sustainability-conscious person they know. Finally, Salters was acknowledged for her hard work creating an award-winning documentary, displaying her artwork and leading many sustainability events here on campus. 

“I'm grateful that people recognize my hard work on campus and around the city,” Salters said. “ I think it's really important to have intentional time to appreciate each other and to celebrate.”

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In the future, Salters would like to see a bigger sustainable community on campus.

“I hope to see more of a culture about caring about sustainability at UR that is beyond the people in this room but more so campus wide,” Salters said.

Two faculty members also took home sustainability awards. GIS Operations Manager Beth Zizzamia was thanked for her contributions to the cemetery collaboratory and the campus tree database, and professor of biology Jennifer Sevin was called a wilderness warrior and was recognized for her work in wildlife ecology.

“I'm super excited and very emotional about  [winning an award],” Sevin said. “It's super nice to be recognized. But I have to say I'm so inspired by my students, and that's what really gives me the greatest joy.”

The event concluded with the Office of Sustainability honoring their six graduating seniors and wishing them well in their next steps.

Contact news writer Andrea Padilla at 

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