Award recognizes contributions to sustainability

Michael McKay

The Sustainability Committee is looking for nominations for students, faculty and staff who helped change WKU for the better.

Sustainability Coordinator Christian Ryan-Downing said the committee is looking for someone who has advanced sustainability at WKU.

“It can be anything from someone who developed a program of study, or it can be a staff person that’s figured a way to reduce energy consumption or, you know, come up with some innovative idea,” she said.

 Associate professor Brian Sullivan was the first faculty member to win the President’s Award for Sustainability, which was created last year for students, faculty and staff to be recognized.

Sullivan incorporated sustainability and its relationship to business into WKU’s MBA program.

Sullivan said understanding sustainability has become an important part of doing business internationally.

“If you’re doing business in the EU, you have to be concerned about your carbon,” Sullivan said.

He said sustainability is already an important part of businesses.

“The process is well on its way — by the time you teach it in the MBA program, it’s a well-established phenomena,” he said.

Nominations are due to the Sustainability Committee by May 5. The committee will narrow down the nominations and President Gary Ransdell will make the final selection.

Ransdell said the award is another way to recognize individuals “who are doing wonderful things in order to ensure a sustainable future.”

 “We have to lead by example,” Ransdell said. “We need for our students and students who graduate from here to understand their responsibilities across this globe and to make it a sustainable environment in which future generations can find comfort and a high quality of life.”

Ryan-Downing said students also have a lot of ways to earn the award.

“Everything from sustainability and research to the students that were responsible for making us a fair trade university,” she said.

She said the award is about more than adding something to a resume.

“If you have won the President’s Award for Sustainability, then you have given something to WKU — you have left a legacy at your university that is significant and lasting,” Ryan-Downing said. “So it’s about more than just getting that award — the award is pretty cool, and the recognition at commencement is pretty cool — but just knowing that you’ve done something at WKU that has left it a better place is amazing.”