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ASU strengthens sustainability efforts


December 15, 2008

ASU’s School of Sustainability (SOS) and the Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS) are about to jointly take the next step in their planned evolution with the creation of a single position, dean and director, to manage both organizations.

This new position, for which there will be an international search, is a further commitment to sustainability, putting sustainability at ASU on an equal footing with liberal arts and sciences, and engineering.

This evolutionary advance, being taken about a year ahead of schedule, was made possible by the leadership of Jonathan Fink, director of GIOS, and Chuck Redman, director of SOS.

Fink and Redman, having completed their assignments in incubating GIOS and SOS, will take on new roles next year that will continue to enhance ASU’s sustainability efforts.

Fink will become the Foundation Professor of Sustainability Science, leading a number of university interdisciplinary research initiatives in sustainability. Redman will continue teaching and helping build SOS as the Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History, and he also will begin work on a book about urban sustainability based on the landmark research of GIOS and the Center for Environmental Studies (CES) that preceded it.

Both will continue in their current positions until the new dean and director is in place.

ASU has made a commitment to sustainability through teaching, research and practice in the past year, including:

• Launching an interdisciplinary undergraduate degree program in sustainability, with more than 200 students enrolled in the first class, and the university’s first master’s degree awarded at commencement Dec. 18.

• Expanding ASU’s sustainability-related research portfolio to more than $35 million of external funding per year, much of which is focused on the critical areas of renewable energy, water supply, conservation biology and urbanization.

• Winning recognition from the Princeton Review, Sierra magazine, Valley Forward and other third-party evaluators for being among the top universities in the nation for sustainable practices and education.

Fink was tasked to lead GIOS last year, based on his knowledge, personal network and creative ability to make simultaneous progress on integrating all of the highly diverse components of ASU’s sustainability-related activities. Fink and his team rose to the occasion, moving GIOS to a position of prominence based on the quality, breadth and interconnectivity of the university’s programs.

Redman, meanwhile, has brought the School of Sustainability from an unformed concept four years ago to a unique enterprise filled with enthusiastic and accomplished students taught by one of the most interdisciplinary groups of faculty members in any institution. As the founding director of GIOS and director of CES, Redman also established the foundation upon which Fink has been able to advance GIOS.

“I asked Jon and Chuck to take their current positions in 2007 with the goal of GIOS and SOS eventually being led by a single individual, acting as both director and dean, once I felt that the institute and school were established on a firm footing,” says ASU President Michael Crow. “With the completion of the GIOS strategic plan, the successful launch of the school’s graduate and undergraduate programs, and ASU’s recent adoption of an array of sustainable business practices, we now feel ready to move our sustainability program to its next phase.”

In addition, Rob Melnick, executive director and chief operating officer of GIOS, has been asked to take on more responsibility for oversight of the Institute and the School of Sustainability during the transition, and to begin implementing the institute’s strategic plan, which recently was approved by its board of trustees.

Melnick will remain the executive director and chief operating officer of GIOS after the new director and dean is selected.