New sustainability coordinator plans for greener future on campus

By Anna Spoerre, @ASpoerre_DE

The university has spent more than $1.5 million on sustainability projects across the Carbondale community since 2009 according to sustainability.siu.edu. 

Geory Kurtuzhals will now oversee these projects as SIU’s new sustainability coordinator.

“I have one very clear vision: that someday, when people think of Southern Illinois University and Salukis, they’ll think of sustainability,” Kurtuzhals said after starting her new position on Aug. 31.

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Kurtuzhals, who holds a master’s degree in sustainability from Clark University in Massachusetts, worked as an environmental education promoter in the Peace Corps before coming to SIUC. She hopes to focus on education and awareness.

“Sustainability is about our social, economic and environmental impact,” Kurtuzhals said.

Student-driven programs are encouraged because they tend to have a lot of passion and hands-on learning, Kurtuzhals said.

“Going forward, we are looking to partner with all members of the university in some way or another. No one is excluded from sustainability. It touches everyone.”

Every semester, students pay a $10 green fee. Proposed by students in 2009, the fee contributes to funding sustainability projects on campus. 

Kurtuzhals works on the sustainability council with three students, three faculty members and three staff members. All three students are involved with picking the proposals.

“Students are encouraged to apply for green fund proposals and that’s very important because they’re paying this fee” said Cami Sockow, a graduate student from Redbud studying environmental resources. Sockow is a member of the sustainability committee.

Kurtuzhals said she likes the opportunity to impact future leaders. By the time students leave the university, she hopes they will be more aware of how their actions impact the world. She said the biggest way for every student to contribute to sustainability is through self-awareness.

“Do you turn off the light when you leave the room? Do you have the air conditioning going and the window open at the same time?” Kurtuzhals asked.

Lori Stettler, the Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, was part of the hiring committee for Kurtuzhals’ position.

“Geory is very passionate about sustainability,” Stettler said. “She brings a wealth of information and I’m looking forward to seeing all the great things she can do on our campus.”  

Anna Spoerre can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @ASpoerre_DE

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