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PSU Institute for Sustainable Solutions names Robert Liberty as new director
Author: Christina Williams, Institute for Sustainable Solutions
Posted: January 4, 2016

Robert Liberty, director the PSU Institute for Sustainable SolutionsPortland State University’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS), which supports sustainability-related research, curriculum development, student activities, and community partnerships, has named environmental lawyer and policy expert Robert Liberty as director starting January 4.

Liberty will focus on cultivating external partnerships and creating and supporting a business plan to ensure the Institute’s long-term financial health. He will also continue to lead the PSU Urban Sustainability Accelerator, which works with cities and regions across the country on the implementation of sustainability plans and policies. 

“This university, city, and region have played outsized roles as leaders in sustainability. As climate change and other sustainability challenges rise in public concern, ISS will help maintain and enhance that leadership,” Liberty said. “Former director Jennifer Allen and the ISS staff have created a dynamic and integrated system of research, intellectual exchanges, education, business partnerships, and community service that we will continue to build upon. I am excited to have this chance to contribute to the effort.”

“Robert’s deep experience in urban sustainability, equity, partnership development, and fundraising make him the ideal person to lead the important programs already underway at the Institute and chart a course for future innovations,” said PSU President Wim Wiewel. “ISS plays a crucial role as the central portal for sustainability at PSU and a trusted partner in the region. Strong leadership will ensure that ISS can effectively continue this work.”  

Liberty takes over from interim director Jonathan Fink, who is also PSU’s vice president for research and strategic partnerships. As director, Liberty will helm a leadership team that includes Fink, whose research division oversees ISS activities; ISS assistant director Fletcher Beaudoin; and ISS research director Vivek Shandas, who is an associate professor of urban studies. 

Liberty joined PSU in 2012 and has more than three decades of work in sustainable development policy and practice. He has served as staff attorney and executive director of 1000 Friends of Oregon, a nonprofit focused on land use issues, and was elected to the Metro Council in 2004, a position he held until 2011. Prior to coming to PSU he served as executive director of the University of Oregon’s Sustainable Cities Initiative and has an undergraduate degree in political science from UO, a master’s in modern history from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. 

“Robert is a trusted collaborator and will enhance the already strong ties that PSU and ISS have with the city of Portland and other local partners,” said Susan Anderson, director of the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and a member of the ISS Advisory Council. “I look forward to working with Robert and the rest of the staff at ISS to continue our progress on regional solutions to climate change.”