W&L’s Office of Sustainability and Energy Education Continues Evolution New program director Jane Stewart leads office into next phase.
Washington and Lee University has made substantial commitments toward environmental sustainability and campus carbon reduction efforts on campus over the last two decades. With an objective to create a carbon neutral campus by 2050, W&L is racing to meet the goal on an increasingly aggressive timeline.
W&L’s initial sustainability efforts began in 1999 with the establishment of the university’s environmental planning and management committee through the Associated Colleges of the South’s Environmental Citizenship Initiative. Increased awareness on campus resulted in a host of recycling and composting programs, and eventually led to the creation of a climate action plan and energy education program.
In 2014, W&L created the Office of Sustainability and hired Kim Hodge as the first full-time director of sustainability initiatives and education. Housed within the Student Affairs division, the Office of Sustainability created and maintained numerous student programs and helped drive the university’s sustainability efforts forward.
Hodge shifted responsibilities when she was promoted to assistant dean of students last spring. The Office of Sustainability was reorganized to report to Steve McAllister, vice president for finance and treasurer, and was renamed Office of Sustainability and Energy Education (OSEE). Today. OSEE oversees W&L’s environmental sustainability and campus carbon reduction efforts through engagement with all aspects of the campus-built environment and operations, programming for students and staff, and campus/classroom connections.
Jane Stewart, who had served as W&L’s energy specialist since 2011, was named the office’s new director. In her new role, Stewart leads W&L’s energy education program and its overall sustainability initiatives, while also serving as co-chair for the University Sustainability Committee (USC).
“In recent years, I have had the opportunity to expand my focus from targeted energy conservation initiatives to broader emissions reduction strategies, and through my role on the USC, to work on identifying structures and policies to advance sustainability efforts at W&L,” said Stewart. “I am excited to bring these pieces together in my new role, and to connect them with opportunities for student engagement in and out of the classroom.”
Stewart leads a team that includes full-time campus garden manager Nicole Poulin and part-time compost operations assistant Mike Tolley. OSEE also boasts a team of roughly 30 student interns who work in the office, the campus garden and on the campus compost crew during the academic year.
“Effective sustainability work is inherently collaborative, and I am looking forward to creating new connections across campus and building on established partnerships, including with Dean Hodge, who will maintain a special connection to sustainability initiatives within Student Affairs,” said Stewart. “I am extremely fortunate to be stepping into this role with great support from all corners of campus. The Sustainability Office has a small staff, but represents a large team.”
Stewart has already helped guide W&L to adopt several new sustainability initiatives, including a deal to purchase enough solar energy to match 100 percent of the university’s annual electricity consumption and the elimination of bottled water sales on campus.
OSEE is located at 214 N. Main St., next to W&L’s Financial Aid Office. For more information about the university’s sustainability initiatives or to contact a member of OSEE, simply visit the office’s website.
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