Portland State University honored eight sustainability leaders at the sixth annual PSU Sustainability Celebration on May 28 in the Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom. Hosted by PSU’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions, the event garnered nearly 300 attendees, including Portland Mayor Charlie Hales who shared comments about PSU’s long-term partnership with the city.
PSU faculty, students, a staff member, and for the first time ever an alum and a community partner won awards for their efforts advancing sustainability at PSU and in the local community.
Senior Kirk Rea won a student sustainability award.
Excellence in Sustainability Research Faculty Award: Dr. Dilafruz Williams
Dilafruz Williams, professor of education, has worked with schools in low-income neighborhoods for more than two decades. Her research and teaching have identified food and health as emerging significant issues affecting poor people and communities of color. Her research on sustainability, garden-based learning, and school-community-university partnerships, has been lauded nationally and internationally.
Excellence in Teaching and Sustainability Faculty Award: Dr. Judy BlueHorse Skelton
Judy BlueHorse Skelton, professor of indigenous nations studies, is a consistent source of inspiration to her students. Here’s what one of Dr. BlueHorse Skelton’s nominators had to say about her classroom: “Judy brings to light indigenous ways of knowing that have been around since time immemorial. They inherently address sustainability of natural and cultural resources, but do so in a way that is innovative and exciting to learn.”
Excellence in Sustainability Engagement Student Award: Nichole Martin
Nichole Martin is working to build an inclusive sustainability movement and does so through both personal and professional avenues. “She is involved in more projects than I can count,” writes one nominator. “Not only does Nykki facilitate events on campus and present at conferences, she is also a cutting-edge speaker on the topics of power, privilege, and sustainability.”
Excellence in Sustainability Engagement Student Award: Kirk Rea
Kirk Rea has led the Environmental Club and coordinated the Earth Day Festival at PSU for more than two years. One nominator called Kirk “the true sustainability hub at PSU. His never ending motivation, upbeat and uplifting attitude, expansive knowledge, and willingness to learn has inspired and motivated so many people at this school — and not just students, either.”
Excellence in Promoting Campus Sustainability Staff Award: Noel Mingo
Noel Mingo, utilities manager at PSU, is an incredible resource to the Campus Sustainability Office and key player in helping PSU reach its Climate Action Plan goals. From initiating work with Energy Trust of Oregon’s Strategic Energy Management Program to providing key insights on benchmarking data to support energy conservation programs, Noel brings a willingness to explore all the possibilities.
Alumni Award for Sustainability: Trudy Toliver
Trudy believes in PSU’s motto, “Let Knowledge Serve the City,” and embodies it in her professional work, personal life, and community service. As executive director of the Portland Farmers Market, Trudy is an important partner to PSU. And as former executive director of EarthShare Oregon and a key player in progressive transit development during her tenure at TriMet, Trudy is making Portland better.
Partner Award for Sustainability: Lewis Elementary School
Lewis Elementary, a certified Green School, is a community-based learning site for PSU students, many of whom have partnered with Lewis to conduct research for their master’s degrees. If anyone wants to see community and neighborhood engagement, this is a school that exemplifies these sustainability values — and it has served as an ongoing bridge for students to see theory put into practice.
Roy Koch Award for Sustainability Leadership: Dr. Dave Ervin
Dave Ervin, professor of environmental management, professor of economics, and fellow of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions, has inspired and motivated the PSU community from many disciplines to work together to achieve something greater than the sum of its parts. He helped create PSU’s Graduate Certificate in Sustainability and successfully led the effort to land the prestigious IGERT Award from the National Science Foundation. He has tirelessly worked to build connections between PSU and the community, clearing the way for students and researchers to have a direct influence on environmental management policies in the region.