Starting Oct. 9, NAU will no longer have a sustainability director to head the Sustainability Program.
In a Sept. 6 email, NAU sustainability director Ellen Vaughn announced her intention to resign.
She will be moving forward with her career at University of California Santa Cruz.
“While I am extremely excited to be moving towards new sustainability opportunities at UC Santa Cruz, I regret that our partnership in serving the NAU campus community has come to an end,” Vaughan wrote in the email.
Vaughan has worked with NAU for years to create a campus that supports environmental changes and involved everyone from students to staff. She turned sustainability from something most were left out of culture at NAU, while simultaneously fighting budget cuts from the university.
Caitlyn Burford, chair of the Environmental Caucus at NAU, worked closely with Vaughan.
“She has done all this work despite the university, as a whole, losing a lot of administrative support for environmental positions,” said Burford.
Vaughn had a large part in taking environmental issues students and facility were normally left out of the loop on and promoting change within how the issues were handled, invloving more of the university. This included the control of water usage on campus being made more environmentally friendly.
Throughout her time at NAU, Vaughan also created other opportunities like the Sustainable Citizen Program, which focuses on educating students on how to take on sustainability challenges.
“She’s created it [the sustainability program] to be a university-wide program where facility and staff and students are all involved,” Burford said. “And not just the one concentrating on reducing groundwater and things like that, but in fully trying to create a campus-wide culture of sustainability. She’s done an incredible job.”
Burford also explained how Vaughan devised strategies to get student employees for the Sustainability Program and other methods for students to be directly involved with sustainability issues.
With all the work Vaughan has done, her departure coupled with the university’s slowing financial support for the Sustainability Program has some students and faculty are worried about the future of the program.
“In many ways, she’s the last woman standing on campus, she’s one of the last funded positions related to sustainability on campus … now without her there, I’m worried that there’s no one to be able to pick up the slack and a lot of things that would’ve fallen through the cracks without her,” Burford said.
So far, no replacement for Vaughan has been announced by NAU. The Lumberjack reached out to Vaughan but she declined to comment on the story at this time.