The restructuring of the Dean of Faculty’s Office during the spring of 2012 resulted in the creation of a new Associate Dean position for Infrastructure, Sustainability & Civic Engagement. The position was created in order to support the growing interest in civic engagement and sustainability, and to assist with space planning and design of the new physical and life science building. The position was filled internally at the College, and Beau Breslin, Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs, offered Karen Kellogg, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, the position. Karen began her work as Associate Dean in the summer of 2012.
During her 13 years in the Environmental Studies program at Skidmore, Karen invested countless hours building knowledge and awareness of sustainability through her courses and larger operational and curricular efforts at the College, such as helping to launch the Environmental Studies major 10 years ago and the Water Resource Initiative. Karen taught introductory courses in environmental studies and sciences, sustainable development, alternative energy, and a yearlong capstone course focused on community-based sustainability projects. Outside the classroom, Karen engaged students in research spanning freshwater ecological work to environmental law cases in our local watershed. She also worked with student teams to organize national conferences focused on environmentally-related teaching and research, climate action, and has brought student teams together to make campus sustainability initiatives more visible. Even before taking the Associate Dean’s position, Karen has been active in promoting civic engagement through the Responsible Citizenship Task Force and has been involved in planning for the physical and life sciences for the past 10 years.
Over the last year, Karen’s new role in the Dean of Faculty’s Office has brought additional focus and support for sustainability at Skidmore. A few of the areas where she has already had an impact include: assisting with the hiring of the two new Sustainability Fellows, communicating sustainability efforts to the Board of Trustees and President’s Cabinet, and providing important guidance and perspective on a sustainability strategic planning proposal as a member of the Campus Sustainability Subcommittee. Karen also serves on the New Initiatives in Sustainability Fund committee, assists with faculty development workshops on sustainability, and has partnered with others on several campus-based sustainability projects. Karen has helped advance several major initiatives on civic engagement and has co-coordinated the planning for new and renovated physical and life facilities with Kim Frederick, Professor of Chemistry, which sustainability and engagement have both served as guiding principles throughout the design process.
Skidmore has worked closely with Payette, an architectural firm based in Boston, MA, to develop the programming and initial design for new facilities that will promote collaboration both within the sciences and more broadly. The current program includes not only teaching and research spaces, but interdisciplinary spaces that will invite participation from our entire community, hence promoting the cross-disciplinary engagement that is so much a part of the fabric of Skidmore. There are also plenty of informal gathering spaces throughout the building that will provide important student study areas and contribute to building community on campus. The building will not only allow us to engage each and every student at Skidmore in the process of science, but the building itself will be a teaching tool, promoting scientific literacy and a better understanding of sustainability. The sustainability features will become more defined as the overall design progresses, but we plan to seek LEED certification for this building.
Karen’s new position with the Dean of Faculty’s Office, her leadership in the science building design process, and her involvement in many other sustainability projects across campus are all exciting examples of the College’s growing capacity to consider and implement sustainability initiatives.