Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Do We Need A Sustainability Director?

A mini-controversy has appeared in our town & gown relations over the past week.  A few days ago, the Northwestern editorialized that the newly hired Director of Sustainability was an unnecessary luxury in these sour economic times.

They suggest that sustainability is just a buzz-word and is too fuzzy to hold much meaning.  They then claim the unversity is out to destroy local agriculture in some way because of this initiative

The chancellor fired back with a memo defending the need for this position.  In it, he emphasizes the savings that have already come from focusing on sustainability.  He also points out that the new director brings both specific experience in helping better use our resources and academic knowlege that will be shared in the classroom.

I thought that the attack on sustainability was gratuitous and ungrounded, meant mostly to attempt to get someone to read their editorial page.  If we are serious about reducing our environmental footprint, having an expert on staff seems worthwhile to me.   

That being said, I am skeptical about the increasing number of administrators on campus, of which the sustainability director is just one.  I would hope that when we have to make the next round of cuts, they will find money to cull from that area rather than from the instructional side of things.

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