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Center announces 2014 Sustainability Leadership Awards

Monday, April 21, 2014

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Center for Sustainability will present the 2014 Sustainability Leadership Awards on Tuesday, April 22, as part of KU's Earth Day festivities. The event will take place at 3 p.m. on the Dance Pavilion by Potter Lake and is open to the public.

“It is truly an honor to recognize these inspiring leaders on our campus,” said Jeff Severin, director of the Center for Sustainability. “These individuals and projects are not only contributing to a more sustainable campus but are having a positive benefit in Lawrence and other Kansas communities.” 

The Sustainability Leadership Awards recognize outstanding leadership and creativity in addressing issues of environmental, economic and social responsibility through education, research, service and innovation. Award recipients are nominated by their peers and selected by a committee that includes past award winners.

 The 2014 Sustainability Leadership Award recipients:

Undergraduate Student Award: Rachel Richmond, an environmental studies major, currently works for the Kansas Biological Survey and is the events coordinator for KU Student Farm. She has conducted research on sustainable agriculture and the availability of local food, and she has dedicated numerous volunteer hours to local environmental initiatives.

Graduate Student Award: Kate Marples, a third-year student in the School of Law, has played an important role in promoting sustainability as a priority in legal education. As symposium editor of the Kansas Law Review, Marples devoted significant time and effort to organize a symposium titled “Waters of the United States: Adapting for Degradation and Drought.” She also advanced to the Semi-Finals of the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition in Pace Law School in White Plains, N.Y.

Faculty Award: Matthew Burke, associate professor of sculpture, has contributed to local projects, including the Neighborhood Pocket Library project and Logs to Libraries initiative, using lumber from trees removed from the Lawrence Public Library expansion. Through his Build Smart shop, Hand Skill Saturdays workshops and volunteer work at Prairie Moon Waldorf School, he educates and shares his craft across generations. His artwork helps connect communities with history, culture and the natural environment. 

Staff Award: Wendy Shoemaker, senior associate director of the University Career Center, keeps her office informed of sustainability initiatives and promotes sustainable practices in the workplace as the Sustainability Ambassador for UCC. She also practices what she promotes, turning off lights in her office, recycling and riding her bike to work. As a leader in her organization, she inspires her colleagues to make simple changes in their own lives to reduce their effects on the environment.

Student Staff Award: Eric Beeler, student housing director of Grace Pearson and Douthart scholarship halls, has shown a commitment to sustainability leadership by promoting environmentally conscious behavior change and serving as a mentor to students living in the scholarship halls. His outreach ranges from assisting with the purchase of more efficient laundry equipment to engaging students in meaningful discussions about challenging sustainability topics.

Project Award: Rock Chalk Recycle, a partnership between KU Athletics and KU Recycling, diverted more than 34,000 pounds of waste from the landfill in its first year by enacting recycling and composting at all Athletics facilities. Rock Chalk Recycle also educated fans and volunteers on the importance of recycling and compost in an attempt to encourage similar behaviors at future sporting events and at home.

Social Justice Program Award: Safe Zone, a project of the the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Student Involvement and Leadership Center, promotes a safer and more civil campus community for all individuals, particularly the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer community members. The program addresses critical social equity issues that often receive limited attention in society, on campuses nationwide and in sustainability dialogues.

Social Justice Award: Robert Harrington, professor in the Department of Psychology and Research in Education, will be recognized for his work on social climate and education. Harrington researches and teaches on topics of educational belonging, positive learning environments and constructive discipline. His research and writings have been used to make classroom environments more welcoming to all students, no matter race, sex, disability, learning style, ethnicity, language, age and class, among others, and thus lead to better educational outcomes.

Greek Life Award:  Sigma Kappa has shown a commitment to sustainability action by starting a new recycling program and energy conservation efforts. During the 2014 Move Out, the sorority donated more clothing and furniture than any other greek house. Other activities include Lights out On the Hill and the philanthropy Inherit the Earth. 

Award recipients will be honored at the Earth Day ceremony along with campus departments receiving Green Office Recognition for adopting sustainable practices in the workplace as well as winners of the campus RecycleMania, a recycling competition held between residence halls and campus departments this spring.

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