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Ithaca College Takes Two National Sustainability Awards

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) has announced the winners of its annual Campus Sustainability Leadership Awards, with two of the six honors going to Ithaca College. The college itself is the recipient of an institutional award, while senior Sarah Brylinsky has won the Student Sustainability Leadership Award.

Each year, AASHE presents four Campus Sustainability Leadership Awards to institutions that have made the greatest overall commitment to sustainability as demonstrated in their governance and administration; curriculum and research; operations; and campus culture and community outreach.

In what AASHE says was the most competitive selection process yet, Ithaca College was recognized as the winner in the category of four-year and graduate colleges and universities with between 1,001 and 7,500 full-time students.

A charter signatory to the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, Ithaca College was cited for adopting sustainability as a core value, for its support of sustainability in the classroom and for its outreach in the surrounding community. Ithaca’s recently completed Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise received platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, and an administration building now under construction is also attempting to achieve platinum status. The Environmental Studies Program recently received a significant grant that will fund a number of additional educational initiatives.

In addition to the institutional awards, AASHE annually honors two students. Sarah Brylinsky was this year’s recipient of the Student Sustainability Leadership Award, which is presented to an undergraduate who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting campus sustainability.

“We had the most applications ever this year, so winning one of these awards is a significant accomplishment,” said Judy Walton, the acting executive director of AASHE.

As resident assistant (RA) of the Sustainably Conscious Living Community, Brylinsky created programs that boosted the popularity of the residence hall. Her efforts prompted the college to require sustainability training for all RAs, training which she designed and implemented herself. She is working with the college to retrofit residence halls with energy efficient lighting, water saving measures, in-house composting, community dining space and shared organic gardens. She also coordinated a new program for first-year students to connect them with important environmental and civic organizations in the local community.

Brylinsky, who is majoring in communication management and design, created a series of online resources such as an eco-events calendar to help students learn about the college’s sustainability efforts and numerous opportunities to get involved. She was the first student to apply for and receive a Sustainable Curriculum Grant from the college, with which she created Ithaca’s first communications course on sustainability. She is currently developing a course combining women’s studies and environmental issues.

The awards will be formally presented at the AASHE 2008 conference, “Working Together for Sustainability — On Campus and Beyond,” being held Nov. 9–11 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The winners are highlighted in the October issue of “Sustainability: the Journal of Record”; the article can be downloaded at http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/SUS.2008.9933 (PDF document).

Founded in 2006, AASHE is an association of colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada working to promote sustainability in all sectors of higher education — from governance and operations to curriculum and outreach — through education, communication, research and professional development. For more information, visit http://aashe.org.

For more information on the awards, contact Julian Dautremont-Smith, AASHE associate director, at (610) 349-5994. For more information on sustainability at Ithaca College, contact Marian Brown, special assistant to the provost, at (607) 274-3787 or mbrown@ithaca.edu.




Originally published in News Releases: Ithaca College Takes Two National Sustainability Awards.