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Office of Sustainability launches at UW-Madison

March 7, 2012 By Jill Sakai

The UW–Madison Office of Sustainability will officially launch on Friday, March 9, with an event at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

The event will begin at 1 p.m. in the H.F. DeLuca Forum with welcoming remarks by Provost Paul M. DeLuca Jr. and Vice Chancellor for Administration Darrell Bazzell. They will be followed by a presentation from Gregg Mitman, interim director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and chair of the Sustainability Initiative Task Force. Office of Sustainability co-directors Craig Benson and Faramarz Vakili and student director Steven Olikara will share their visions for the future of sustainability at UW–Madison.

“Our intent is to harness the diversity, knowledge and enthusiasm of the university’s students, faculty and staff to promote a campus that studies sustainability and implements what is learned in campus practices,” says Benson, a professor in the College of Engineering and director of sustainability research and education.

A reception with appetizers and a cash bar will follow in the Town Center of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, located at 330 N. Orchard St. The event is free and open to the public. Advance registration, although not necessary, is appreciated via RSVP to Beth Johnson at by Wednesday, March 7, at 4 p.m.

The Office of Sustainability is the implementation of the campus Sustainability Initiative, one of two campuswide initiatives in the 2009-14 Campus Strategic Framework.

In 2010, a 17-member task force, aided by eight working groups composed of faculty, staff and students, developed a comprehensive set of recommendations related to sustainability at UW–Madison. The Office of Sustainability, growing out of these recommendations, serves all aspects of campus and is responsible for promoting and linking practices related to education, research and campus operations.

 “Sustainability needs to become an integral part of the fabric of campus, the identity of what it means to be a Badger,” says Vakili, the director of sustainability operations.

“The over 40,000 young people on our campus represent our greatest opportunity as a university to shape the future of global sustainability,” adds Olikara. “We are focused on engaging students in interdisciplinary teams to experiment on campus and on developing young leaders to serve beyond the borders of campus.”

More information about the office and related campus activities are available on the new UW–Madison sustainability website at