Green aspirations lead to Sustainability Coordinator

By Tressa Versteeg

Beginning in January 2008, Macalester’s commitment to energy efficiency will take the next step, under the guidance of a new Sustainability Coordinator.The President’s Climate Commitment, a nation-wide committment to lowering emissions on college campuses, has raised many schools’ commitment to greener living.
President Rosenberg signed the commitment, becoming one of 414 signatories.

As part of the commitment he created the Sustainability Coordinator position. This spring, Rosenberg’s Climate Commitment Advisory Committee, a small team composed of students, faculty, and staff, began working to mold this position to Macalester’s sustainability goals.

“Issues surrounding the environment and sustainability have always been important at Macalester, but in recent years, we have seen a large increase in initiatives and interest from all members of the college community,” said Laurie Hamre, vice president of student affairs and chair of the advisory committee.

“The position has been created to help the college coordinate efforts and activities on campus, provide expertise in environmental sustainability and to help Macalester take a more proactive approach to managing environmental impact,” Hamre said.

Hamre said the position entails a variety of jobs and duties.

“This position will coordinate efforts in creating a comprehensive sustainability plan, develop and implement campus-wide initiatives, support students and student organizations in their efforts, assist with projects in Environmental Studies courses, and work with all college departments to implement effective sustainability programs across campus,” she said.

One of the specific responsibilities will be to assist the Environmental Studies Senior Seminar this spring.

According to Macalester Treasurer David Wheaton, the Sustainability Coordinator will work with the organizations already undertaking efforts on campus rather than start completely new projects.

The coordinator’s expertise will benefit both Macalester and the neighboring area, Hamre said. The coordinator will facilitate communication between Macalester and the surrounding community, something that Hamre says is currently lacking.

“This position will help Macalester become more sustainable and will help us prioritize our efforts towards sustainability. This person will help to connect the efforts of students, staff and faculty to help Mac be more sustainable,” said Dan Hornbach, environmental studies chair and advisory committee member, said.

Committee leaders said they will look for someone with field experience to fill the position, rather than someone right out of school or someone limited to academic experience.

“Our candidate will have experience in the field of campus sustainability and will bring new, tested ideas to us,” Roopali Phadke, environmental studies professor and member of the advisory committee, said.

“Mac is ahead of many others in the commitment to make a difference, not just locally but nationally and internationally,” Hamre said.