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Sustainability Events at Alumni Weekend

Written by Office of Sustainability student associate, Kyla Fung, class of 2026

Over the past decade, sustainability practices at Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) have evolved and expanded dramatically. Starting as a small set of initiatives, our sustainability goals have developed into a holistic strategy that includes active partnership from hundreds of individuals on and off campus. During the 2023 WashU Alumni Reunion at Thurtene Carnival, we welcomed back our beloved WashU alumni for various events throughout Alumni Weekend. The Office of Sustainability collaborated with other campus partners and the WashU Sustainability Network to host three events throughout reunion weekend: the Environment, Sustainability, and Climate Change (ESCC) Open House, the Sustainability and Arboretum Tour, and the ESCC Panel with WashU Experts.  

Environment, Sustainability, and Climate Change Open House 

Located in Schnuck Pavilion, one of the University’s LEED Platinum buildings, the Environment, Sustainability, and Climate Change Open House was an opportunity for alumni to connect with one another as well as engage with current faculty, staff, and students. In addition to networking, the event included brief remarks about the university’s teaching, research, operations, and community impact. Assistant director of sustainability, Cassie Hage, also led a small group of alumni on a tour of the sustainability features of Schnuck Pavilion. 

Sustainability and Arboretum Tour 

Led by Phil Valko, assistant vice chancellor for sustainability, along with Stan Braude, arboretum curator and biology professor, the Sustainability and Arboretum Tour took alumni on an adventure throughout campus, highlighting features of the campus’ natural and built environments.  

Beginning their journey at Brookings Arch on the Danforth Campus, the tour was divided into two parts. The first part of the tour focused on campus sustainability and brought tour participants to key LEED certified buildings such as January and Rudolph Hall, while the second introduced participants to WashU’s campus arboretum, bringing them to notable trees and plants on campus.  

Alumni Carolyn Morris Jachna (AB ’93), who was a Biology and German double major and Fulbright Scholar at WashU, joined the tour due to her profound interest in campus sustainability initiatives and prior involvement in environmental-focused clubs on campus during her time as a student. When she was a student at WashU, she was involved in the campus Outdoors club, as well as the Environmental club, which focused on implementing recycling initiatives and educating students about proper waste practices throughout campus. Her two twin daughters will be attending WashU in the fall, with one studying neuroscience and another environmental science. 

Environment, Sustainability, and Climate Change Panel with WashU Experts 

Moderated by Dan Giammar (Walter E. Browne Professor of Environmental Engineering), the panelists included prominent WashU faculty and staff leaders: 

  • Liz Mallott (Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Arts and Sciences)
  • Rodrigo Reis (Professor of Public Health, Interim Co-Dean Brown School) 
  • Phil Valko (Assistant Vice Chancellor for Sustainability, Office of Sustainability) 
  • Heather Woofter (Director of the College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts). 

After each speaker conducted a brief presentation about their work or research relating to the university’s sustainability operations, the panel opened up to the audience for questions, followed by an open networking event accompanied with refreshments and snacks. The panel discussed the university’s broad engagement with environmental, sustainability, and climate change research, teaching, and operations, including the university’s distinguishing features.  

About the WashU Sustainability Network  

The WashU Sustainability Network seeks to connect alumni, parents, and students who work in the field of sustainability or are interested in sustainability issues such as energy, ecology, climate change, sustainable global development, environmental justice, green building practices, and more. Members connect virtually and in-person to network, explore, discuss trends, and share information. 

Want to get involved? 

Explore volunteer opportunities here!  Or join the WashU Sustainability Network on LinkedIn.

Interested in attending networking events with fellow WashU Alumni? 

WashU’s Sustainability Network hosts career networking and professional development events to help alumni and parents make new connections and explore career interests. Additionally, the WashU Sustainability Network offers periodic in-person events in Washington, D.C. 

Check out more by visiting this link

For specific inquiries about the WashU Sustainability Network, contact Suzanne Wagstaff, Senior Director of Alumni Networks and Alumni and Constituent Engagement.