LAWRENCE — The KU Center for Sustainability presented its fifth annual Sustainability Leadership Awards on Oct. 26 as part of Campus Sustainability Week festivities. The awards recognize outstanding leadership and creativity in addressing issues of environmental, economic and social responsibility on the KU campus and in the broader community. Award recipients include:
Kim Scherman, a senior majoring in English and journalism, was recognized with the undergraduate student award. Scherman has worked to educate students and community members about sustainable food systems by organizing film showings, partnering with a local grocer to create educational materials for shoppers and coordinating the KU Student Farm. She is currently working on an honors thesis in the School of Journalism to examine how other student farms have educated their participants about eating and producing local food.
Lydia Gibson, a graduate student in the urban planning program, has been a catalyst for numerous sustainability initiatives. As an undergraduate at KU, Gibson formed a student chapter of the Air and Waste Management Association, connecting members with local and regional businesses implementing sustainable practices. She has coordinated comprehensive waste audits both on campus and off, assisting Boulevard Brewing Co. in development of its zero-landfill plan. Gibson has also has been involved in researching and reporting on the federal farm bill, agriculture and energy security, and water rights legislation, and co-chaired a working group for the campus sustainability plan.
Catherine Schwoerer, associate professor in the School of Business, was recognized with the faculty award for the personal approach she takes with her students to expand their understanding of sustainability. She creates a unique learning environment where students are challenged to define sustainability around what is most important to them and discover their individual roles in advancing sustainability. In the words of her nominator, “Catherine found the seed of caring in each of us and watered the heck out of it.”
Peg Livingood, landscape architect for design and construction management, has been a champion for sustainability initiatives throughout her 10-year career at KU. She participated on the Transit Task Force, worked closely with Parking and Transit to update and improve campus bus routes, and served as the project manager for the Park & Ride project. Livingood helped plan the incorporation of bio-swales in the Park & Ride parking lot and a natural stream channel to drain the central area of the developing research circle on West Campus. She has also supported the vision of student sustainability initiatives that created the Student Rain Garden and improved Potter Lake.
Studio 804 and The Center for Design Research received the project award. The Center for Design Research is the latest building completed by Studio 804 in the School of Architecture. Designed and built entirely by students under the guidance of distinguished professor Dan Rockhill, the building features a solar array, a green roof, and a vented wall that promotes cross-ventilation in the summer and circulation of warm air in the winter, among other sustainable design features. In addition to demonstrating green design and energy efficiency, the project was recognized for engaging students in a unique hands-on learning opportunity and creating a collaborative environment that will benefit the KU campus and the broader community.
Dr. Jerry Schultz, assistant professor and co-director of the KU Work Group, received the Social Justice award. Dr. Schultz was recognized for his work with the Kansas City Chronic Disease Coalition to reduce diabetes and heart disease among African-American and Hispanic residents of Kansas City’s urban core. He has also worked with the Prairie Band Potawatomi Indians, supporting that community’s use of traditional Potawatomi foods in a sustainable, ecological approach to improving wellness. Schultz’s efforts emphasize justice through health and well-being for all by addressing social inclusion and income equality.
This was the first year that the Center presented the social justice award.
“Previous awards have tended to focus on environmental initiatives with economic benefits,” said Center for Sustainability director Jeff Severin, “but we cannot create a more sustainable society without the third ‘E’: equality. I’m pleased to be recognizing an individual who embodies the true meaning of sustainability with this award.”
Award recipients were recognized during a luncheon featuring products from local farms in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. The event was catered by KU Dining Services, a 2008 Sustainability Leadership Award winner, and highlighted its efforts to provide local, organic and natural food at campus dining facilities.
The Center for Sustainability promotes a culture of sustainability at the University of Kansas in order to protect natural ecosystems, create economic prosperity and treat all people with equality and respect. The Center works across campus to support sustainable practices in operations, education, research and campus life. For more information, visit the center's website.