Western announces new School of Environment & Sustainability

Western professor John Hausdoerffer speaks with a student on campus
Western State Colorado University Vice President for Academic Affairs William Niemi, Ph.D., announced Friday the transformation of the university’s Center for Environment & Sustainability to a new School of Environment & Sustainability (SES), with John Hausdoerffer, Ph.D., to serve as the school’s first Dean.

The Environment & Sustainability (ENVS) program as a whole has seen terrific growth over the past few years. SES now includes a growing array of diverse academic programs, community events and a center for internal and external environmental problem-solving.

“I am humbled by the challenge embedded in the new School and Dean titles and excited to convene many campus colleagues to bring vision into reality,” Hausdoerffer said. "I am eager to bring together visionary faculty and dedicated students with environmental organizations, community leaders and generous donors to elevate how Western serves students, the West and the world."

Western’s Center for Environment & Sustainability has more than tripled its core faculty and has more than doubled its student base in the last four years. It brings in more than $1 million per year from non-state sources to transform the Center's ability to educate students, support faculty research, partner with organizations and support community programming, such as the Headwaters Conference, an annual gathering—going on 29 years—that brings together some of the nation’s leading environmental writers, speakers and researchers. 

The ENVS Council plans to meet this week to plot a long-term strategy for optimizing and continuing this growth—not only in size, but also in student and public influence through this new team of faculty. The administration sees renaming the Center as a strong message of encouragement (“and a challenge for excellence,” said Niemi) with this new, aspirational title. 

“I want to extend a hearty congratulations and thank you to the many people who brought this to fruition—but none more than to Dr. Hausdoerffer,” Western President Greg Salsbury said. “Without his vision, persistence, passion and creative problem-solving, this dream could not have become a reality.”

Niemi also announced Friday that Jeff Sellen, Ph.D., will return from sabbatical to focus on his Colorado Water Workshop and will therefore no longer serve as Undergraduate ENVS Director.

Said Niemi: “Under Dr. Sellen, the undergrad ENVS program rebuilt from 100 majors to its current level of 145 majors, and Dr. Sellen worked tirelessly with Dr. Hausdoerffer's team to ensure that the Master in Environmental Management program would serve undergrad students well, rather than distract from their experience. Let’s all thank Dr. Sellen for his leadership.”

Niemi announced that Kate Clark, Ph.D., will serve as the new Undergraduate ENVS Director. Clark has a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from University of Colorado Boulder with a focus on Environmental Sociology.

“In Dr. Kate Clark, Western has just added a very special talent to the campus' undergrad leadership team,” Hausdoerffer said. “Most importantly, she brings a wholehearted spirit as a colleague, is deeply conscientious about the needs of students and colleagues, and about the core values of ENVS, Western, diversity and publicly funding the public good of higher ed."

Story by Marketing Communications. Photo by John McKeith.

Monday, December 4, 2017 - 12:30pm