Nergard appointed 1st full-time director of sustainability

July 31, 2018 By Steve Wagner

Melissa Nergard has been selected as the director of sustainability in Facilities Planning and Management.

Nergard brings nearly 10 years of experience in sustainability to UW–Madison. She is currently director of sustainability at Illinois State University, where her work is focused on campus and community sustainability programs that integrate economic, social and environmental factors. She has also served as assistant director of sustainability, and in several other roles in facilities management, at Illinois State.

Photo: Portrait of Melissa Nergard

Melissa Nergard

Nergard will begin work Aug. 6. She will report to David Darling, associate vice chancellor for facilities planning and management.

The new position — the first full-time director of sustainability at UW–Madison — reflects a renewed emphasis on sustainability and resource stewardship as well as an increased focus on sustainable operations in the university’s environmental stewardship efforts.

“UW–Madison has a long history of commitment to sustainability in education, research and campus operations,” says Darling. “I am very excited to have Melissa join UW–Madison’s team and to use this position and her experiences to increase the focus on sustainability, enhance our sustainability data tracking and benchmarking, and pursue AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) reporting.”

The director of sustainability will serve as a key facilitator and organizational strategist and will lead the university’s efforts to build on its past successes and expand its sustainability programs. As part of this process, the director will develop a comprehensive, long-term strategy to incorporate sustainable practices and principles in daily operations and academic activities.

The director will also work closely with a faculty associate director appointed by the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, who will continue to have responsibility for the academic components of the program, including the development of research partnerships, stewardship of the sustainability curricula, and management of sustainability certificate programs.

The director will develop a comprehensive, long-term strategy to incorporate sustainable practices and principles in daily operations and academic activities.

“I am truly honored to become a part of UW–Madison’s enduring commitment to sustainability,” says Nergard. “Chancellor Blank noted that conservation and responsible stewardship have been innate to the university since its inception 170 years ago, and that the university continues to build on its enduring legacy.

“It is especially exciting to partner with the professional staff, world-class faculty, dedicated students and vibrant community to establish Associate Vice Chancellor Darling’s vision for a resilient campus and world-renowned sustainability program. I am looking forward to joining this talented and dedicated team.”

In the near term, Nergard will focus on expanding and re-aligning the Office of Sustainability in order to advance the university’s efforts in operational sustainability, as well as AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) data collection, benchmarking and reporting.

Nergard holds a bachelor’s degree in broadfield social sciences from UW–Stevens Point and a master’s in history from Illinois State, and is scheduled to complete her Ph.D. in higher education administration in 2019, also from Illinois State.