St. Olaf College | News

Van Wylen named college’s ‘sustainability catalyst’

VanWylenDavid200x250St. Olaf College Professor of Biology David Van Wylen ’80 will serve as the college’s “sustainability catalyst” for the 2013–14 academic year.

The sustainability catalyst, a position funded by the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, provides leadership on campus environmental initiatives. Van Wylen’s responsibilities will include engaging staff, faculty, and students in ways that strengthen community learning in sustainability; furthering environmental collaborations; and encouraging earth-minded action both on and off campus.

During his tenure as associate dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Van Wylen participated in the design and construction of St. Olaf’s Regents Hall of Natural and Mathematical Sciences. The facility earned platinum certification — the highest rating attainable — from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. The nearly 200,000-square-foot, $63 million building is the largest and most complex academic facility in the nation to earn the prestigious platinum rating.

In addition, Van Wylen has supported student-initiated sustainability efforts, including Take Back the Tap, a campaign to minimize the use of bottled water on campus. Van Wylen also has served communities in Tanzania and has led three of the four St. Olaf semester-long off-campus programs: Term in Asia, Term in the Middle East, and Environmental Science in Australia.

The sustainability catalyst, a position previously held by the late Professor of History Jim Farrell,  works through the Environmental Studies program.