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Campus Sustainability Leadership Awards

The Campus Sustainability Awards recognize outstanding commitment by students, faculty, staff, and student organizations to enhance the three pillars of sustainability on the Geneseo campus: social sustainability, economic sustainability, and environmental sustainability.  The awards are to recognize and celebrate the hard work of community members, which often goes unnoticed, as we strive for a campus that is socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable for generations to come.

Nominations are based on leadership that has been demonstrated in two or more of the following categories: 

  • Innovative and progressive practices that support social, economic, and/or environmental sustainability.
  • Raising awareness and generating enthusiasm surrounding sustainability issues.
  • Innovative research, curricular design, or creative work that enhances understanding of sustainability.
  • Initiatives or efforts that make the campus more sustainable.
  • Collaborative programs or events that bring together sustainability stakeholders in the region.

These leadership achievements may be in the areas of academic work, climate, advisement, collaboration, mentoring, outreach, research, and/or creative activity.

Nominate a 2022 Award Recipient Today!

Complete the Nomination Form by April 11, 2022 (11:59 PM)

2021 Award Recipients

Check out the story!

Student Winner: Fleurian Filkins '21
Members recognize Filkins' tremendous impact on campus during their two years at Geneseo. As an eco rep, they wrote a campus gardens proposal to reduce mowing and create native garden habitats, create outdoor spaces for studying, and advocate for gardens run by residence halls. They wrote a vertical garden proposal, including a prototype design, for the Eco House Living-Learning Community and secured a $1,000 grant for the project. Filkins also worked with the Food Security Advocates to write the proposal for the on-campus food pantry, which was approved by the College Senate this spring. Members say Filkins is "an incredible advocate for student voices and social justice, and they have truly changed sustainability on Geneseo's campus forever."

Student Honorable Mention: Molly Mattison '21
Mattison has held several campus leadership positions. She worked as a Hall Council sustainability representative, an eco rep and resident assistant in Onondaga Hall, and a sustainability intern overseeing the Hall Sustainability representatives. As assistant residence director in Monroe Hall, she worked as a peer leader for the Tesla House and Eco House Living-Learning Communities. She worked closely with Fleurian Filkins '21 to gain support for and begin construction of the vertical garden for Monroe Hall, and she led the communication for the composting initiative in the residence halls. Members recognized her leadership for the student-led effort to start an on-campus thrift store, working on the collections, pop-up thrift shops, and behind-the-scenes work involved in such an effort. Members say one of Mattison's strengths is welcoming and including students in sustainability work. "She's enthusiastic and warm and recognizes that sustainability work should come from passions, which are unique to each person," says Reitz. "We all have a role to play in building a sustainable future, and Molly actively brings more people into that work."

Student Organization Winner: Food Security Advocates
The Food Security Advocates have been a loud and constant voice on campus this year," says Reitz. "They successfully researched, wrote, and defended a proposal for an on-campus food pantry and had many productive conversations with Campus Auxiliary Services to brainstorm and start projects that will increase student food security. "

Faculty Winner: Suann Yang, associate professor of biology
Yang has developed multidisciplinary curricula focused on sustainability, including the IBIS Project (Integrating Biology and Inquiry Skills) and the DOMES Project (Designing Open Modules on Environmental Sustainability). She has served on the Campus Auxiliary Services board to advance sustainability in food systems on campus. She has also been recognized by her students for her enthusiasm for sustainability, advancing awareness through coursework and sharing her sustainable lifestyle. The focus of Yang's research and teaching is ecology, specifically interactions among species and the ecology of constructed habitats. Members said that Yang, on a daily basis, "supports students in gaining knowledge and skills for understanding what is necessary for sustainable practices and positive relationships with the natural world." Yang brings this focus to her classroom teaching, extensive research with undergraduates, and interactions with members of campus who are not scientists by training. She’s also highly engaged with integrative learning.

Faculty Honorable Mention: Stephen Padalino, Distinguished Teaching Professor of Physics
Padalino was recognized as a driving force and leader for sustainability issues on campus for more than six years. He was one of the co-creators of the college's eGarden and has dedicated much effort in planning the eGarden facility and outfitting it with scientific instrumentation. This instrumentation includes a wind turbine, a photo-voltaic solar collector air heater, arduino data collection, a telemetry system, and a micro-algae pond farming system to create biofuels. "What is most impressive about his work is how he has been able to involve a large number of students in these projects, giving them valuable hands-on high-impact research experiences that are the hallmark of a Geneseo education," Reitz says. "He has also been involved a multidisciplinary team of students on his projects, involving students not only from physics but also from biology, chemistry, and other non-science fields." Recently, members said, Padalino developed Sustainable Energy, a natural science core class that will offered this fall. Members say he has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to advancing awareness of sustainability on campus.

Faculty nominees: Ahmad Almomani, assistant professor of math, and Paul Schacht, professor of English

Staff Winner: Jon Heininger, senior financial aid counselor
Members say Heininger is an enthusiastic advocate for sustainability in many ways on campus, encouraging everyone in his division to recycle and participate in the college's composting program. Co-workers say he is knowledgeable on worldwide issues and practices what he preaches. He was also recognized as an advocate for green parking spaces, carpooling, charging stations, and a hybrid work schedule. He has extensively researched programs, cost-savings, and proposals to decrease campus scope three emissions, especially through travel.  

Staff Honorable Mention: Bill Meyers, Campus Information Technology project engineer
Members recognized Meyers for always applying environmentally sustainable practices to classroom technology. This includes recycling used LCD projector lamps and installing the first laser-light projectors on campus. Laser light projectors do not use a lamp, therefore minimizing Geneseo's carbon footprint and reducing the build-up of waste that’s bad for the environment. He plans to further sustainability goals by recycling more out-of-date equipment and installing only lamp-free projectors.

2020 Award Recipients

Student WinnerCatherine Fedor. Catherine is a senior Biology major and Environmental Sciences Minor. Catherine has been incredibly involved in sustainability projects throughout her career at Geneseo; in her nomination, she was described as a "true renaissance sustainability woman"!

Faculty Honorable Mention: The duo of Karleen West, Political Science, and Suann Yang, Biology.  These two faculty members are advocates for sustainability education on campus in their curricular design and research.  Specifically, over the past couple years, Karleen and Suann have explored innovative pedagogies for teaching sustainability and instituted the DOMES project here on campus. 

Faculty Winner: Barbara Welker, Associate Professor of Anthropology.  Sustainability underpins all of Barb's work.  It's a personal passion that she weaves into her courses, her research, and her service and is able to inspire students to think through a sustainability lens in the many and varied work they do in Anthropology courses. 

Staff Member Winner: Steve Schunk, Plant Utilities Engineer for Facilities Services.  Steve has been a member of the Sustainability Commission since 2017.  Steve has played an integral role in grant writing for campus energy efficiency upgrades.  And has recently been hired as the campus’s first Energy Manager

Student Organization Winner: Beekeeping Club.  The Beekeeping Club is just 6 years old and has done amazing work in making the physical campus more sustainable with its active hives and advocacy for native grasses and wildflowers.  They are one of the most visible clubs on campus, tabling often and bringing awareness of sustainable practices to the campus.

2019 Award Recipients

Student Honorable Mention: Samantha Schmeer.  Sam has worked throughout her collegiate career to explore environmental and social sustainability in both her scholarly and creative work.

Student Winner: Clara Gallagher. Clara’s enthusiasm for composting and zero waste has had a huge impact on the campus in a small amount of time.  Under her leadership, the student-run composting program as grown exponentially and she has played a key role in the Big Tree Inn become a zero waste operation.

Student Winner: Jane Auld. She has worked in the sustainability office for nearly all four years, developing programming with other interns to make our campus more sustainable. She an active member of the Royal Lady Knights and pushed for a greek sustainability chair position to be created and was the first person to hold that position after its creation. Jane also worked as the student director for the Geneseo Green Quotient--a group of a dozen faculty and students who have spent this year developing a sustainability curriculum for Geneseo students.

Faculty WinnerJenny Apple. Professor Apple is a professor in the Department of Biology and her research is focused on local plant-insect interactions and the effect of invasive species and native pollinators on the Roemer Arboretum.  In addition to her research, Jenny is the chair of the Arboretum Advisory Board and the faculty advisor of both the Beekeeping Club and the Nature Walk Club and is the Eco House Learning Community Fellow for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Faculty Winner: Karleen West.. Professor West is a professor of Political Science, specializing in Latin American politics and sustainability politics.  Her courses are incredibly interactive and require students to research and execute sustainability initiatives on campus, looking beyond environmental to the social and economic impacts as well.

Staff Winner: Meg Reitz.  Dr. Reitz has served as co-chair for the Commission since 2014, was instrumental in bringing campus groups together to start composting in the residence halls, worked to make events in her own department and around campus zero waste, and has supervised sustainability interns in the Department of Student Life and Residence Life for the past 3 years to support students in their sustainability passions.

Student Organization Honorable Mention: Geneseo Beekeeping Club.  The Beekeeping Club takes care of hives on campus that pollinate our native species.  They are doing hands on work to make the campus environment more sustainable and educate the campus and community about the value of pollinators.

Student Organization Winner: FORCES (Friends Of Recreation, Conservation, and Environmental Stewardship).  FORCES is one of our most active student organizations engaging with the local community in both educational and service work.  FORCES has worked with Letchworth State Park, Stony Brook State Park, the Genesee Valley Conservancy, the Arboretum, the after school Bridge Program in Mt. Morris, and the R-Kids Americorps Program in Geneseo to support sustainability efforts and educate students and community members about the values of sustainability.

2018 Award Recipients

Student Honorable MentionCasey Vincelette, a graduating senior and co-chair of the Food Security Advocates group in the Office of Student Volunteerism and Community Engagement whose efforts have brought issues of local and global food insecurity to the campus, educating peers, faculty, and staff.

Student Honorable Mention: Clara Gallagher, a sophomore who tirelessly promotes sustainable behavior through her Hall Council and is highly active in Peace Action, politics, and in supporting migrant workers in the community.

Student Honorable MentionJane Auld, a junior member of GEO whose enthusiasm and proactive approach to sustainability have led to innovative change in the campus.

Student Winner: Paul McDermott, who has been an outspoken advocate for sustainability since his first year on campus.  His collaborative nature and constant, behind-the-scenes work have led to a lot of changes on Geneseo’s campus over the past 4 years.

Student Winner: Brendan Cullen. Brendan stands out in his ability to create integrative learning opportunities that combine academic research with concrete community outreach programs.

Faculty Honorable MentionJennifer Guzman, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, for her work with migrant workers in her research, her classes, and in her service to the community.

Faculty WinnerKristi Hannam, Associate Professor of Biology.  Kristi has been an advocate for sustainability at all levels of the college (from campus leadership to curriculum innovation to community outreach) for over a decade.

Staff Honorable Mention: Bill McDevitt for his devoted, behind-the-scenes work in the Office of Sustainability.

Staff Winner: Kris Dreessen from the Office of Communications and Marketing for developing the innovative concept of a web-based map to illustrate sustainability initiatives across the world. Kris’s initiative to broaden the definition of sustainability to the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals has set an example at the college, in SUNY, and nationally.

Student Organization Honorable MentionFORCES (Friends of Recreation Conservation and Environmental Stewardship) for their commitment to invasive species education and service to the community. 

Student Organization WinnerGEO – Geneseo Environmental Organization for their dedication to education, awareness, collaboration, and policy changes.