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Center for Sustainability points eye to future

Severin named first director

Jeff Severin

KU has created a Center for Sustainability, which will work to position KU as a leader in sustainable practices and education by providing research and other learning opportunities for students and faculty. Jeff Severin has been hired as the first director.

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Richard Lariviere touted the formation of the center as a way for KU not only to reduce energy costs, but also to prove its dedication to being environmentally responsible.

"As a major research institution, KU has a responsibility to help find new ways to reduce energy consumption and waste. Through research and practical application, the Center for Sustainability will pioneer ways for the university to be environmentally sound. It is our hope that these can then be shared with society beyond campus, thereby conserving valuable resources and helping the state of Kansas and the world."

Stacey Swearingen White, associate professor of urban planning, will be director of academic programs. The center has also formed a sustainability advisory board, which will set goals for a sustainable university, give recommendations to the office of the provost and monitor progress toward the goals.

Primary performance goals of the center include

  • Identifying and pursuing externally funded research grants.
  • Creating student-based sustainability research projects.
  • Developing service learning courses with a sustainability focus.
  • Establishing a campus-wide sustainability ambassador network of faculty, staff and students.
  • Identifying cost-saving opportunities for various campus operations.

Potential projects of the center will cover a wide range of topics in sustainability, such as environmental issues, economics and social equity. Specific projects will be identified as the center gathers input from campus.

The Center for Sustainability will be located in Carruth O'Leary Hall, and will report to Don Steeples, vice provost for scholarly support.

Severin began the position Jan. 29. He previously was manager of the Environmental Stewardship Program. A 2001 graduate of KU with a bachelor's in environmental studies, Severin is currently working toward a master's in urban planning, also at KU. While serving as manager of the Environmental Stewardship Program, he helped expand collection locations, and the program experienced an overall annual tonnage increase of more than 20 percent.

The Environmental Stewardship Program, which oversees waste reduction and recycling, will remain part of Facilities Operations and will work closely with the Center for Sustainability.

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February 5, 2007 : Vol. 31, No. 10

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