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Melnick’s appointment boosts sustainability efforts

February 19, 2008

Sustainability efforts at ASU have grown significantly in the nearly three years since the university’s president, Michael Crow, made it a priority. Now the institutions that embody sustainability, such as the Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS) and the School of Sustainability, are getting a boost organizationally with the appointment of Rob Melnick as executive director and chief operating officer of GIOS.

Melnick, who will continue as the director of ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy and as a research scientist in the School of Public Affairs, takes on his additional duties at GIOS after serving as ASU’s associate vice president for economic affairs.

For a list of some of Rob Melnick’s accomplishments at ASU click here.

“As a pan-university program, GIOS is one of our most important assets for differentiating ASU as the New American University,” Crow says.

“Rob will work closely with Jon Fink, the Julie Ann Wrigley director of GIOS, and Chuck Redman, director of the School of Sustainability, to advance our goal of making ASU an internationally renowned leader in research, innovation, teaching and solutions in sustainability.”
Melnick will add experience to GIOS in the areas of public policy, strategic planning, corporate and government relations, and management.

“While a number of us have been working to create a broad vision for sustainability at ASU over the past several years, we now recognize that we need somebody with Rob Melnick’s organizational skills and insights to make sure that we make steady progress to accomplish our goals,” says Fink, director of the Global Institute of Sustainability. “Rob is the missing link to greatly accelerate the growth of ASU’s sustainability initiatives.”

Fink says Melnick will have three primary roles:

• Chief of staff for the growing GIOS organization.

• Primary strategist for implementing the sustainability vision developed by ASU faculty, Crow and the GIOS board of trustees.

• Point person within GIOS for engaging the corporate sector.

Melnick says that, in his new position, he will focus on “turning the GIOS vision into reality.”

Because GIOS is so large and cuts across all four ASU campuses, Melnick will be working to determine how to optimize the benefits to GIOS from this large, diverse talent pool while respecting the requirements and motivations that individual faculty have in their “home” units.

“Another challenge will be finding the balance between the ‘R’ and the ‘D’; that is, between discovery and practical application,” Melnick says.

“Corporations, public institutions and individuals are hungry for learning new ways to make their environment, economy and society more sustainable. We want them to look to ASU and GIOS as a leading problem-solver in this space.”

Melnick has been a highly visible ASU researcher and administrator for nearly three decades. Among his contributions to ASU, Melnick established ASU’s Office of Economic Affairs, and has led the development of hundreds of funded policy research reports as director of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy (a position he has held since 1987) and as a research scientist in the School of Public Affairs.

Before coming to ASU, Melnick was a senior fellow and vice president of the Hudson Institute, where he was in charge of policy studies on employment and education. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, Melnick conducts research on urban growth management and economic development. He is the co-author of three books on these subjects and frequently contributes to the institute’s policy research studies.

Most recently, Melnick was co-principal author of major reports titled “Sustainability for Arizona: The Issue of our Age”; “The Treasure of the Superstitions: Scenarios for the Future of Superstition Vistas”; “Arizona’s Premier State Trust Land” and “Seeds of Prosperity: Public Investment in Science and Technology Research.”

Melnick has been appointed to numerous government commissions and task forces on a wide range of public policy issues. He has a bachelor’s degree in government from Dartmouth College, and he earned his master’s degree and doctorate from ASU.