Campus & Community

It’s not easy being green: Meet DU’s new sustainability coordinator

Chad King will take the helm of the new DU Center for Sustainability in June. Photo: Chase Squires

The sustainability movement at the University of Denver has come a long way in a short time, progressing in five years from a student-driven pledge to join a national effort to an even more permanent step: hiring the University’s first full-time sustainability coordinator.

Chad King, most recently of Ohio Dominican University, will take the helm of the new DU Center for Sustainability in June. King brings to DU an array of education, interests and experiences, including a PhD and a master’s degree in environmental science, work in sustainability and agriculture, and even a stint as a middle school science teacher. At Ohio Dominican he was founder and co-chair of the University Sustainability Council and assistant professor of environmental science. He helped incorporate sustainability across the curriculum and was involved in carbon-footprint analysis, environmental policy, university sustainability reporting, environmental justice, habitat restoration, service learning and recycling.

It’s been a long road, King says, but he has consistently fed his passion for sustainability.

“Everything I did, I could feel it all morphing into this area of institutional sustainability,” King says. “I see the director’s position here as pulling together all these areas — computer science, engineering, business, graphic design, education. Suddenly you’ve got this mix that approaches problems in sustainability in different ways, but all targeting the same issues.”

DU’s sustainability efforts began in earnest in 2007, when Chancellor Robert Coombe, in consultation with DU’s student body, signed the University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which requires members to initiate development of a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality, begin to make climate neutrality and sustainability part of the curriculum, and develop other educational experiences while expanding research or other efforts necessary to achieve climate neutrality.

To that end, DU established the Sustainability Council, made up of administrators, faculty, students and staff. The council partners with facilities management, student housing, dining services, parking and transportation, marketing and other divisions with an eye toward reducing DU’s carbon footprint and encouraging sustainability. The council and its member divisions have successfully developed recycling and food-composting programs, encouraged bicycle sharing, established a fleet of natural gas-fueled vehicles, hosted awareness events and encouraged development of a sustainability minor.

In 2011, it became clear that a full-time coordinator would be needed to focus all the initiatives, from curriculum and mechanical retrofits to changes in behavior.

After a nationwide search, King was selected this year. He says his first task will be to review recent sustainability efforts across campus.

Fred Cheever, associate dean of academic affairs at the Sturm College of Law, serves as chairman of the Sustainability Council. He says the addition of a full-time coordinator shows just how far the movement has come.

“Hiring Chad King as the University of Denver’s first sustainability coordinator will take us to a new level,” Cheever says. “The members of the DU community have shown enormous enthusiasm and commitment to the concept of sustainability in many ways. Chad will help us draw our efforts together. His commitment to student learning and his solid background in the hard sciences will help DU sustainability efforts grow.”

King will move to Denver this spring with his wife and son. An avid runner and hiker, he says he is eager to begin experiencing all that Colorado has to offer and to meet the University of Denver community.

“What I love is you have students really driving these ideas, and you have faculty and staff meeting the students where they are taking this,” King says. “This movement is about the council and the students, and it’s about DU; it’s not about the coordinator. I’m just excited to be at the interface for all of that.”



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