In light of College and State of Maryland budget crises this year, the recently terminated Sustainability Fellow position is not scheduled to be reinstated next year despite considerable campus support.
Begun in 2008 as a one-year fellowship program, the Sustainability Fellow position was designed as the only full-time sustainability office position. The person holding this position would be in charge of organizing and researching sustainability initiatives on campus alongside campus planning and facilities.
However, recent budget deficits led to the position’s suspension last year (held at the time by Lisa Neu ’10), which, according to former Dean of Students Laura Bayless, would allow for the hiring of a new associate in the Office of Financial Aid and a Judicial Affairs Coordinator in the Office of Student Activities. Replacing the fellowship was the Sustainability Internship program, under which three students would work alongside Facilities Planner and Sustainability Coordinator Luke Mowbray throughout the year to expand the College’s sustainability initiatives.
According to Mowbray, the positions will be continued next year, with an intern also working over the summer in preparation for the upcoming academic year.
“The student intern program will be continued for the same reason it was started,” said Mowbray. “As a new program we’ve been figuring out how to be the most efficient with new staff resources.”
Much support has been shown by the College community to restore the Sustainability Fellow position, largely for the same reasons the initial suspension decision was called for appeal to the President’s Council last year by former Student Trustee Danny Ruthenburg-Marshall. While financially more efficient to hire three part-time (10 hours per week) student interns over a full-time Fellow position, the inherent decreased efficiency of the position from a sustainability standpoint is difficult to overlook.
“Overall the student interns were fantastic workers and achieved a great deal,” said Mowbray. “The challenges we had with the new structure had to do with the total number of hours worked by sustainability staff and the inherent scheduling and oversight issues typical of part-time student positions.”
Despite appeals to College President Urgo and the Board of Trustees by a variety of students on campus, including SGA President Mark Snyder, the Sustainability Fellow position remains suspended until further notice, and interns will be hired to continue into the summer and following year.