Green fee goes toward student salaries

Nadia Dreid

This spring marks the first semester of the Center for

Sustainability as a fully student-fee-funded entity, which is set to collect

approximately $400,000 a year from students to fund sustainability initiatives

on campus.

“We’re in transition,” Lissa Leege, Ph.D., biology professor and director of the Center for Sustainability, said. “Because we’re now funded by students as opposed to the academic side of house.”

The Center for Sustainability was previously funded by the College of Science and Mathematics, Leege said. Now the center is funded through a $10 per semester green fee, which students voted to enact fall of 2012 and took effect last semester.

According to its financial plan, the Center for Sustainability plans to spend just under $58,000 this year on sustainability programs. This includes awareness events like No Impact Week and GreenFest, as well as bringing speakers to campus.

Student fees will also fund staff salaries.

The center currently has three employees: Leege, the director, a graduate assistant and an undergraduate assistant. While Leege will not receive a salary from the center this year, the financial plan indicates that in 2015 she will receive an approximately $15,000 salary. The graduate and undergraduate assistants will earn a combined salary of just over $1,100 dollars in 2014.

Leege said that the ability to pay staff is an essential part of assuring the center is successful.

“If you have a lot of money and all you’re doing is programming, it doesn’t really do any good,” Leege said. “If you can’t pay anybody to run the programs, you’re sort of sunk.”

Public health graduate student Christina Breslin volunteered for the Center for Sustainability for several years before being hired this year. She said she works over 20 hours a week coordinating events and volunteers and arranging materials for projects.

“The more people we get, the more we can do,” Breslin said. “So far I’ve been able to use close to 140 volunteers this semester.”

In 2015, the Center for Sustainability plans to hire an associate director as well as another graduate and undergraduate student for a total staff of six. The projected salary cost for that year is over $110,000, more than 25 percent of the expected yearly revenue.

Leege said that having paid staff members makes the program better.

Leege said, “You have to invest in good people who care, who are passionate about sustainability and can really engage with our campus community.