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Sustainability Awards recognize campus leaders

Celebrating students, faculty and staff who are making a difference
April 13, 2015

Recipients of the University of Calgary Sustainability Awards, honoured for their contributions to advancing sustainability on campus and in the community. 

Prior to presenting Sustainability Awards in six categories, President Cannon reflected on the past year's successes.

Members of Bear Necessities take a closer look at their award for Student Club Leadership at the 2015 Sustainability Awards held on April 1. More than 175 campus members attended the event. Photos by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Award recipients received a lucky bamboo plant — a green symbol of positive energy, success, resilience, and fortitude — reflecting attributes of the many leaders in sustainability across our campus.

Award recipients received a lucky bamboo plant — a green symbol of positive energy, success, resilience, and fortitude — reflecting attributes of the many leaders in sustainability across our campus.

More than 175 campus members attended the seventh annual Sustainability Awards which recognized and celebrated the contributions and co-operative efforts of students, faculty and staff in advancing our institutional commitment to excellence and leadership in sustainability. This year's awards saw more than 70 nominations.

“This is a wonderful event that clearly demonstrates just how many leaders we have promoting sustainability at the University of Calgary,” said President Elizabeth Cannon, who presented awards in six categories including; Student Leadership, Student Club Leadership, Teaching Leadership, Faculty Leadership, Staff Leadership and Staff Group Leadership.

While she congratulated everyone in the room for their leadership in sustainability, Cannon said she was particularly proud of students and pointed out that more than 1,000 students have self-organized into 50 different sustainability clubs. “Our students are a huge part of the foundation that supports our university community as we learn about sustainability in all its complexity,” said Cannon.

Student award winners
The Student Leadership Award went to Keon Ma, a second-year student in the Cumming School of Medicine. Ma helped spearhead the first ucalgarycares Sustainable Cities program, leads the Fair Trade Team of Engineers Without Borders and is co-president of Hope 2 Opportunity, a student club raising awareness about water issues. "Winning the award is a wonderful thing and the recognition goes to people who really supported me," says Ma. "It really takes an entire team to put together initiatives, one person can't do it."

Bear Necessities, a group that collects and donates baby supplies to Inn from the Cold and gets toiletries to impoverished high school students, won the Student Club Leadership Award. "This award really validates all our hard work — the whole entire club's — and really motivates us to do more in the community," says Alexa Villanueva, the club's co-founder.

Faculty award winners
The Teaching Leadership Award, which is based on student nominations, went to Arlene Kwasniak, professor emerita of law, for her efforts to improve the legal infrastructure protecting land and water. "I am absolutely thrilled and humbled about getting this award," she says. "The objective of my teaching has always been sustainability, really no matter what the topic was, because I think that's where the world has to be headed."

The Faculty Leadership Award went to Caesar Apentiik of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology in the Faculty of Arts. Apentiik has organized field courses in Ghana, works with First Nations communities in Alberta, and teaches the significance of local cultural values, systems of thought and traditions in designing and implementing development.

Staff award winners
Caillie Mutterback, a Scholars Academy program assistant in the Student Success Centre, was awarded the Staff Leadership Award. She helped establish a compost and recycling program in her area, spearheaded the university's first Farmer's Market and supports the Scholars Academy in their cohort service projects which heavily focus on social sustainability. She is also developing programming with the Wellness Centre to help promote healthy and balanced living for students.

The Staff Group Leadership award went to the Foothills Campus Sustainability Committee from the Cumming School of Medicine and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. The group helped get designated Car2Go parking spots and secure bike storage at the Foothills campus, organizes activities and acquired additional and retrofitted drinking water fountains. "We are a group of enthusiastic people who have been working at these issues for over five years," says Lindsay McLaren. "We're excited to be part of such a growing community with a focus on sustainability on campus."

New Institutional Sustainability Strategy coming this fall
"It is truly inspiring to see how far the University of Calgary has come since establishing its Office of Sustainability in 2007," said Joanne Perdue, chief sustainability officer, while thanking everyone involved in the awards and recognizing all contributors to sustainability across campus. "Building on our strong foundation I am very excited about the potential that lies ahead."

Later this year, the university will launch a new Institutional Sustainability Strategy which includes three interdependent frameworks for academics, operations and engagement. "Through our renewed strategy we will build stronger linkages between academic and operational endeavors, and provide enhanced opportunities for students to engage in applied practice in sustainability through using our campus as a learning laboratory, and we will enrich our connections with local and global communities," Perdue said.