MSA, Sustain Mizzou discuss sustainability with administration

The solid waste and recycling coordinator's role could be expanded.

MU could create a new department specifically for sustainability in fall 2009. Missouri Students Association President Jordan Paul and members of Sustain Mizzou met with Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Jackie Jones on Monday to discuss the possibility of the new department and how to handle the new sustainability coordinator position.

"We talked mainly about three things during the meeting," Paul said. "Whether to hire someone new as the sustainability coordinator or just reassign duties, where they'll fit in the administrative structure and where their office will be physically located."

Paul said the student groups and administration at the meeting discussed expanding the role of Steve Burdic, MU solid waste and recycling coordinator, to include being sustainability coordinator.

"It seems that the most practical solution, because of the tight financial times, is simply reassigning Steve," Paul said.

Sustain Mizzou President Patrick Margherio said though he understands the university's financial situation, reassigning another employee was not what Sustain Mizzou had in mind when a new sustainability coordinator position was proposed.

"Ultimately, we would like to see a sustainability coordinator as well as a recycling coordinator," Margherio said. "However, we understand that money is tight."

Burdic's duties include more than just recycling cans and bottles around campus. He also handles the disposal of waste for the demolition and construction of campus facilities.

Margherio said Sustain Mizzou works closely with Burdic on recycling projects, such as Tiger Tailgating Recycling for sporting events.

"Steve is the go-to person for recycling on campus," Margherio said. "We work with him on many of our largest projects."

Burdic said the sustainability coordinator position is important to the university and would require the help of multiple workers.

"A successful sustainability coordinator will need broad university support," Burdic said. "It's a big job for anyone."

Burdic said being a coordinator is unique from other jobs on campus because he talks with different offices and departments routinely.

"As the solid waste and recycling coordinator, you go between department boundaries frequently to talk with people," Burdic said.

Paul said Sustain Mizzou, the administration and himself also expressed the need for graduate assistants to work under Burdic if his role was expanded to cover the sustainability coordinator position.

"The graduate assistants would take some of the load off of the sustainability coordinator's shoulders, which will really be necessary if we just end up reassigning Steve," Paul said.

The meeting also focused on where the sustainability department would fit into the administrative structure.

"Right now, waste management and recycling is under landscaping," Paul said. "If a new sustainability department was created and Steve Burdic was reassigned to take on the duties of the sustainability coordinator, then waste management might be rolled into sustainability, and the sustainability department might be put under campus facilities."

The sustainability referendum, which passed a campus-wide student vote in February, will create revenue for sustainability projects and the new coordinator position with a new $1 sustainability fee. The fee won't begin to produce revenue until fall 2009.

"Because the fee won't bring in any money until fall, we have a fairly comfortable timeline for deciding what we need to do," Paul said. "I'd be satisfied with having our plans in place by the time summer comes around."

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