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Liz Christiansen, director of the Office of Sustainability, to retire Feb. 15

Liz ChristiansenLiz Christiansen recently announced she will retire as director of the UI Office of Sustainability, effective Feb. 15, 2017.

We invite you to join us for a celebration of her remarkable career on Friday, February 17, 2 – 4 p.m. in the Office of Sustainability, located on the first floor of the University Capitol Centre. Remarks at 2:30 p.m.

Over the past 8 years, Christiansen has developed and coordinated UI programs to enhance and enlarge the UI community's understanding of sustainability from ecological, social and financial perspectives.

The Office of Sustainability and position of director were results of a wide-ranging sustainability initiative announced by UI President Sally Mason in April 2008.  Liz was named director in November, 2008.

 “Following a nation-wide search the University of Iowa was very fortunate to recruit Liz as the first director of the newly created Office of Sustainability in 2008.   Liz brought to the position a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience and molded the Office of Sustainability into a high performing, student-centric hub for education, outreach, and engagement related to the challenges facing this generation of students.  Building on her vast network of colleagues and her state-wide reputation, Liz has had a great impact on preparing Iowa students to serve as future leaders in addressing the challenges that are impacting our global social, economic and environmental wellbeing,” says Don Guckert, Associate VP, Facilities Management.
Sustainability Highlights
In 2010, Christiansen led the effort to develop the UI’s 2020 Sustainability Targets, a slate of ambitious goals to reduce the campus’ environmental impact and expand sustainability-related education, research and partnerships. The formal adoption of the goals culminated with the signing of a special sustainability agreement between the UI and the U.S. EPA.  Christiansen noted “We felt it was important to make a public commitment of our goals and to ask the EPA to be a partner in that effort. They agreed and we’ve enjoyed a strong and supportive relationship with the agency.”

Reflecting on her work, Christiansen said, “I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to be involved with many exciting projects and to work with very talented people throughout my career, but the most gratifying work of all has been with students at the University of Iowa.

The young people who walk through our doors care deeply about people and the planet,” said Christiansen.  “I always tell folks that if they can’t take another depressing story about climate change, stop by our office to see these students working hard and you’ll feel much better about the future.”

Christiansen previously served as deputy director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (Iowa DNR) from 2002 to 2008, managing a department with 1,100 employees and an operations budget of $100 million. She served as the project manager for Honey Creek Resort State Park, Iowa’s first sustainably-designed state park resort. From 2000 to 2002 Christiansen worked as the administrator for the Iowa DNR's Land Quality and Waste Management Assistant Division. From 1998 to 2000 she was grants manager for Linn County. And from 1994 to 1998 she was the recycling/education coordinator with Bluestem Solid Waste Agency.

Sara Maples, Research Support & Sustainability Manager at the Tippie College of Business, has been appointed to serve as interim director of the Office of Sustainability.

A celebration for Liz is in planning and more information will be shared as it becomes available.