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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 4, 2008

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Iowa DNR deputy Christiansen named director of UI Sustainability Office

University of Iowa President Sally Mason has named Liz Christiansen, currently deputy director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), director of the new UI Office of Sustainability, effective Dec. 8.

In her new role, Christiansen will coordinate and develop programs to promote sustainability and resource conservation; lead or coordinate efforts to formulate institutional goals, policies, practices and measure progress; seek grants and other funding to financially support campus sustainability efforts; and work to enhance and enlarge the UI community's understanding of the importance and feasibility of sustainability initiatives from an ecological and financial perspective.

"I am excited about having Liz join the University of Iowa to head our sustainability efforts," Mason said. "Her extensive experience and leadership in recycling, waste reduction, green government and sustainability in the state of Iowa will prove invaluable as she helps guide the UI's long-term sustainability efforts."

The Office of Sustainability and position of director are outgrowths of a wide-ranging initiative announced by UI President Sally Mason in April 2008. In an Earth Day address to the UI Faculty Senate, Mason announced a strengthened emphasis on sustainability in the UI's use of energy and materials and in its academic focus, a commitment to the creation of five new faculty positions, and campus committees to monitor the UI's sustainability practices and policies. Sustainability is frequently defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own economic, social and environmental needs.

Christiansen, who will also serve as an assistant director of UI Facilities Management, will report to a UI Sustainability Steering Committee -- another element of Mason's initiative.

The steering committee is chaired by Jonathan Carlson, senior associate to the president and professor of law and international studies, and comprised of Barry Butler, dean of the College of Engineering; Jordan Cohen, interim vice president for research; Thomas Rocklin, interim vice president for student services; Wallace Loh, provost; Doug True, senior vice president and treasurer; and John Staley, senior associate director of UI Hospitals and Clinics.

Christiansen brings to the director position some 18 years of working in recycling, waste reduction, green government, sustainability, outreach and education in both the private and public sectors.

She has served as deputy director of the IDNR since 2002, overseeing a department with 1,100 employees and an operations budget of more than $100 million. Under her leadership, the agency became the first in the United States to undertake and sustain a Lean effort. Commonly used in manufacturing, Lean is a system for companies and other organizations to continuously analyze their operations and trim any unnecessary processes and waste.

Additionally, since April 2008, Christiansen has served as project manager for the $60 million Honey Creek Resort State Park project at Lake Rathbun. As Iowa's newest vacation destination, Honey Creek, which opened this fall, is the first State Park to embody environmental performance in its design and operation. The lodge at Honey Creek is designed and being built to standards set forth in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, and the 18-hole golf course is operating according to Audubon certification standards.

From 2000 to 2002 Christiansen worked as an administrator for the IDNR's Land Quality and Waste Management Assistant Division. From 1998 to 2000 she was grants manager for Linn County. And from 1994 to 1998 she was the recycling/education coordinator with Bluestem Solid Waste Agency.

She earned a bachelor's degree in arts and biology from Cornell College and took coursework toward a Master of Science degree in botany at Western Illinois University.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Don Guckert, Facilities Management, 319-335-1248; Liz Christiansen, 515-281-3388 (office), 515-210-7002 (cell); Stephen Pradarelli, University News Services, 319-384-0007,