New Office of Sustainability

TAMPA, Fla. (July 29, 2009) – The University of South Florida is pleased to announce the appointment of E. Christian Wells, associate professor of anthropology, as the founding director of USF’s newly established Office of Sustainability. Wells’ appointment will be effective on Aug. 6.


Wells moves into this key administrative appointment with an impressive record of scholarly achievement and research in the fields of Mesoamerican and environmental archaeology. His primary interests include cultural and ecological aspects of long-term human and environmental systems, the influence of environmental worldview on economic decision-making, and quantitative modeling and analysis of soil science data. Over the past 15 years, he has conducted field research in Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico with funding from the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the National Geographic Society.


As director of USF’s Office of Sustainability, Wells’ administrative responsibilities will include: initiating the USF Office of Sustainability as the single point-of-contact for sustainable activities at USF; maintaining USF’s compliance with the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment and enhancing USF’s performance on the annual College Sustainability Report Card; and conducting fundraising and coordinating grant proposals that will develop a sustainable fiscal base for the office.   He will also work closely with students, faculty, staff and the USF Climate Commitment Steering Committee to coordinate university-wide initiatives in support of USF’s strategic goal of building a sustainable campus environment.


This appointment follows the pledge made by USF President Judy Genshaft in 2008 when she signed the historic American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, as USF joined leading institutions across the nation in collaborative efforts to find sustainable solutions to critical issues such as global warming, energy independence, and other environmental issues affecting our economy, health, and social well-being. Genshaft stated, “The Office of Sustainability is of significant strategic importance to USF. We have the opportunity to coordinate the numerous efforts that are underway, across the USF system, to help shape environmental policies, practices, and programming that best serve the state of Florida, our nation, and global communities.”


Linda Whiteford, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, added, “I am delighted that a visionary scholar such as Dr. Wells has been selected as the founding director of the Office of Sustainability.  As director of the Cultural Soilscapes Research Group at USF, he has engaged the USF community in cross-disciplinary collaborative efforts. His appointment will further strengthen these partnerships and programs that have been developed in recent years and move USF closer to its strategic goal of becoming a national and global leader in sustainability.”  


Ralph Wilcox, provost and senior vice president, looks forward to the new opportunities that will emerge through Wells’ leadership. “I enthusiastically support Dr. Wells’ appointment to lead the USF Office of Sustainability.  His impressive credentials in teaching and research give me the utmost confidence that he will advance USF’s strategic goal of sustainability.” said Wilcox.


“Sustainability and the preservation of the environment are on everyone’s minds right now. As USF has ably demonstrated, universities that ‘go green’ are those that move forward. But ‘going green’ is a highly complex endeavor that will bring many challenges to all levels of the university. In order to ensure a successful and transformative effort, we must create, encourage, and support research and educational programming aimed at developing innovative ways to globally engage all of our stakeholders within and outside of our university. As founding director of the Office of Sustainability, I look forward to implementing new programs and policies that are critical to ensuring the integrated social, economic, and environmental sustainability of the USF community,” said Wells.


The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded more than $360 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2007/2008. The university offers 224 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 46,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.



Story written by Jacqui Cash, Academic Affairs