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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Brandeis hires sustainability coordinator

Published: October 12, 2007
Section: News

Following President Reinharzs signing of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment Sept. 12, University administrators have agreed to hire a sustainability coordinator.

Co-president of Students for Environmental Action (SEA) Stephanie Sofer 09 explained, we met with [President Reinharz], he said he was in sync with the climate commitment. He set me up with Peter French, Mark Collins, Dan Feldman and Bill Bushey [to discuss] where to go from here after the climate commitment. In an Oct. 3 meeting with French, Sofer learned of the wonderful news that the University has agreed to hire a sustainability coordinator within 30 to 60 days.

The new sustainability coordinator would report to Energy manager Bill Bushey, who is under the auspices of Mark Collins, Vice President of Campus Operations. Bushey explained, this is very new. [The position] hasnt even been developed yet. He added, there is a commitment for the position. Were in the very preliminary stages. Regarding the 60 day time frame, we felt 90 [days] is more realistic after further discussion, said Bushey.

A sustainability coordinator would be an environmental overseer of the University in charge of overseeing operations that are related to environmental sustainability. This individual would also work the administration to come

up with an audit of our energy use [and] hopefully work with issues like curriculum, explained Sofer. She added, they would be someone [SEA] could go to that would have a level of expertise. They would encourage us and keep us informed.

SEA co-president Jamie Pottern 09 added, [a sustainability coordinator] would be a link between students and the administration on [environmental] issues.

SEA co-regional outreach coordinator Jake Yarmus 10 is currently working to compile a job description for a sustainability coordinator based on similar positions at other universities. Im looking into it right now for SEA, Yarmus explained, its not necessarily the final word. Thats the administrations job. However, added Yarmus, Im getting a feel for it, [making] myself a resource for the administration.

According to Yarmus, a sustainability coordinator would be involved in campus wide environmental education along with policy and structural choices ranging from food service to methods for turning in papers.

Regarding qualifications, universities usually ask for experts within the environmental field, usually, at the very minimum, a masters degree Yarmus said. However, he added, there are a number of people whove been very effective at NYU right out of collegeits a question of how much we want our sustainability coordinator to be a resource of knowledge or a resource for action.

This position, remarked Yarmus, would create a face for people who have concerns, a leader who can delegate responsibility. He continued, it takes the burden off of faculty who have another job to doallowing people who are concerned to be more effective now that they dont have to be worried about the logistical stuff.

Its a far-reaching, and in some ways, ambiguous position, Yarmus commented;

its whatever the University decides to make it. He added, the effectiveness will depend on how much money is put into the program.

A lot of it isnt really sexy, said Yarmus regarding the work of a sustainability coordinator, [but] its really effective and helpful.

Nyssa Romine 10 agreed. I think its a good idea [to hire a sustainability coordinator] because the campus wastes a lot of energy, she said. She added, even though we try to be ecologically friendly, theres a lot more we could do.

Sofer remarked, the University and the student body are becoming in sync with one another. The hiring [of a sustainability coordinator] has been something the students and administration have wanted for a long time. She added, were creating a long term relationship with students and administrators to pursue environmental sustainability for future generations of Brandeisians.