Sustainability Committee Charter

Strategy Detail: Revision of the UNK Sustainability Committee Charter

The UNK Sustainability Committee was established by the administration in 2009 and was charged with the following:

  • Lead the campus in educating members of the institution about sustainability
  • Recognize those activities that can be identified as supporting UNK’s sustainable efforts

The UNK Sustainability Committee was also generally tasked with defining what it means to be “green” at UNK, identifying other programs and activities that support UNK’s sustainability initiatives, and identifying specific roles for faculty, students, and staff in supporting UNK’s sustainable activities.

The establishment of this committee is an important and meaningful step for UNK. Its existence should signal to the entire campus that sustainability is important to the university’s success. Unfortunately, many on campus are not aware of its existence: nearly 63% of survey respondents indicated they have not seen and/or are not aware of the committee (Verdis Group’s UNK Sustainability Engagement Survey, March 2015).

The committee met regularly for the first few years of its existence and was spurred into action by a passionate staff member that has since left the university. Over the last few years, meetings have been irregular, and the committee’s charge has largely gone unmet.

The committee’s purpose was temporarily refined for purposes of the sustainability master planning process to be an advisory group to the core planning team. To that end, the committee has effectively served its role, providing excellent insight and perspective, setting UNK’s vision and goals related to sustainability, and thoughtfully vetting the strategies throughout the plan that will be pursued over the next several years.

Following the completion and approval of the 2015 Sustainability Master Plan, there are ways in which the UNK Sustainability Committee and its purpose can be modified so as to meet growing demand for sustainability efforts on campus. The following changes to the committee and its charter are recommended:

  • Refine the purpose (charge) to be twofold:
    • Fully integrate sustainability into campus operations, decision making, and the culture of the campus
    • Achieve the sustainability goals noted in this plan
  • Refine primary responsibilities:
    • Champion. Champion sustainability efforts, building engagement and momentum.
    • Provide Coordination & Guidance. Oversee coordination of efforts among all groups making sustainability efforts on campus and provide guidance that will help direct the activities of the other groups (e.g., Enactus, Residence Hall Association, Student Government, etc.)
    • Communicate & Educate. Disseminate information and educate the campus community about sustainability goals and initiatives.
    • Implement. Help coordinate the implementation of sustainability strategies listed in the 2015 Sustainability Master Plan.
    • Allocate Resources. Allocate (or advocate for the allocation of) necessary resources, both financial and human, to help achieve campus-wide sustainability goals.
    • Direct Student Fee Resources. If the optional student fee were implemented, this committee would be responsible for managing those funds and approving or denying proposals.
    • Track & Report. Ensure progress is tracked and annual progress reports are prepared and distributed.
    • Policy Change. Advocate for policy changes that align with the 2015 Sustainability Master Plan goals.
    • Identify Opportunities. Expand the initiative by identifying new opportunities that align with the 2015 Sustainability Master Plan goals.
  • Establish avenues of clearer ownership for members of the committee so they are responsible for implementation of certain aspects/topic area sections of the 2015 Sustainability Master Plan.
  • Create and adhere to internal mechanisms for efficient and predictable committee work, including
    • Monthly, standing meetings
    • A process for identifying, soliciting, and orienting new members, especially students
    • Create consistent practices for meeting agendas and notes so as to create some predictability and transparency, including making meeting notes, annual action plans, and opportunities for involvement available to all interested parties (Faculty Senate, Student Government, etc.)
  • Incorporate additional specificity with respect to committee representation and terms. As a starting point, consider
    • Permanent membership
      • Facilities Director (co-chair)
      • Academic community (co-chair)
      • Sustainability Coordinator
      • Manager of Custodial Operations
      • Student Government appointee
      • Enactus and/or Residence Hall Association appointee
    • Other important areas from which to have representation (3-year terms) include
      • Faculty (1 - 2)
      • Students (1 - 2)
      • Marketing/Communications
      • Business Services
      • Information Technology
      • Residence Life
      • Athletics
      • Community Members
  • Create (formalize) a reporting structure up to the Chancellor’s Cabinet, which should include expectations for annual reporting.