Sustainability efforts at DePauw University have undergone significant structural changes. In the past, there used to be 3 staff positions that worked with sustainability: Director of Sustainability, Assistant Director/Farm Manager, and a part-time Faculty Sustainability Coordinator. In early August, DePauw’s Vice Presidents were asked to identify staff positions likely to become open within the next year. The goal was to identify positions that could be eliminated to reduce the total staff count. The Farm Manager and Sustainability Coordinator positions were cut, and Dr. Jeanette Pope has taken on the role of Director. 

Moreover, the Office of Sustainability no longer exists as its own entity. Sustainability is now affiliated with the newly-launched School of Business and Leadership. In addition, sustainability programs have moved from Student Affairs to Academic Affairs in May. This demonstrates “an overhaul of the way that we are thinking about sustainability at DePauw,” according to Pope.

DePauw students work at the Ullem Campus Farm.

The Office of Sustainability oversaw the Sustainability Leadership Program, the Ullem Campus Farm, and the Ullem Center for Sustainability. These programs will continue to operate. The Environmental Fellows Program, in addition, works closely with sustainability. Many students overlap in both programs, and Pope hopes integrating with Academic Affairs will allow for closer alignment between the two. 

Pope also shared her concerns about future budget decisions harming sustainability practices at DePauw, stating, “Sure, I am concerned about that because sustainability can be seen as a political issue; we’ve never really struggled with that at DePauw, but when we make cuts and we have different priorities it is always a concern.” Pope added that sustainability faculty were not consulted in this decision-making process.  “I think that the rollout for the capacity building changes, and this is part of it, I think there’s some recognition that it could have been handled better.” However, she has been in frequent contact with Dean John Clarke of the School of Business and Leadership, and has submitted a strategic plan to him, outlining some potential next steps. 

Despite these changes, Pope is optimistic about the future of sustainability at DePauw. She views the overall efforts of sustainability on campus to be “the same, if not slightly better,” compared to last year. She hopes the changes will eventually bring stability to sustainability efforts.

Ullem Sustainability Intern Collin Doyle says these changes could lead to a rocky start, but the expanding potential student leadership opportunities will be a good thing for the program.  

“It’s hard,” Doyle shared, “I think a lot of people have been impacted. But I think for the sake of student leadership opportunities, it’s opened up a lot to get out there and try your hand at something new. In a classroom you have to worry about failing, but here you are going to be supported by Dr. Pope and other students.”   

School of Business and Leadership Dean John Clarke emphasized that the goals and strategies of sustainability initiatives will not change because of the affiliation with the School of Business and Leadership. He summed up the importance of sustainability at DePauw: “Sustainability is a very important concept for students to understand… Coming out of DePauw, students should have a much better understanding of what those issues are and how those challenges can be met and the roles they can specifically play. I see this as a very important component of the School of Business and Leadership, and something that we will be supporting long into the future because it is so important.”

Those with further questions about sustainability can contact Dr. Jeanette Pope (