Call him a “CEO” of a different sort.
John Wegner, senior lecturer in environmental studies, has been
appointed by President Bill Chace as Emory’s first campus
environmental officer, effective May 1.
The appointment is a direct response to a report issued to Chace
by a task force charged with making recommendations to implement
the University’s Environmental Mission Statement, which was
endorsed by the University Senate in spring 2001. One of the task
force’s action items was the appointment of an individual
who would be responsible for coordinating all activities that fall
under the rubric of environmentalism and sustainability on campus.
“In keeping with the more general Emory model of how we do
business, this will be a cooperative effort,” said Wegner,
who added that his role will be to coordinate and facilitate the
University’s “green” efforts rather than supervise
them. Wegner will report to Bob Hascall, senior associate vice president
for Facilities Management (FM).
“Over the last several years John has worked tirelessly with
me and my staff in our campus planning and project management areas
to raise environmental awareness and help make each of our new buildings
and major renovations more environmentally sustainable,” Hascall
said. “I look forward to having him join our organization
and assisting him as he assumes this important new role for the
As Hascall alluded, though Wegner now is “joining” FM
as a full-time employee, he has served for some time as a consultant
to various departments in the division. Wegner also will maintain
his appointment in environmental studies, though his teaching load
will be reduced significantly to perhaps two courses each year.
“My previous work gives me a firm footing to start with, but
the mandate for this position goes beyond FM and extends to academic
affairs, operations, volunteer groups and community relations,”
Wegner said. He will consult with such organizations as the Alternative
Transportation Program (located within Community Services); the
Department of Environmental Health and Safety in the Rollins School
of Public Health; FM equivalents in Emory Healthcare, Children’s
Healthcare of Atlanta and other Emory-affiliated institutions; and
existing campus environmental groups such as the Senate’s
Committee on the Environment, the Ad Hoc Committee on Environmental
Stewardship, Friends of Emory Forest and others.
“The simple fact of the matter, and one in which we should
all take delight, is that no one at Emory knows the natural environment
of the campus better,” said Chace of Wegner, who already is
an active member of many of the aforementioned groups. “He
passionately cares for it, and no one could serve it more vigilantly
than John as its steward.”
Wegner likely will encounter a community highly receptive to his
duties, as Emory has launched a number of environmentally conscious
efforts in recent years, from FM’s dedication to the U.S.
Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design principles to the success of Emory Recycles, to alternative
transportation and to more grass-roots efforts like the Ad Hoc Committee—and
even the effort that resulted in the Environmental Mission Statement
itself, which is available online at www.environment.emory.edu/who/mission.shtml.
“The goal of the creation of this office is to implement the
general principles of [that statement],” Wegner said. “The
statement gives you a general outline of the areas we’re looking
Finally, the fact the University chose to devote resources to this
issue in times of significant fiscal constraint speaks well of Emory’s
commitment to environmentalism.
“I was pleasantly surprised [by the decision],” Wegner
said. “I know Bill Chace has an environmental commitment,
as does Bob Hascall, but it was not entirely certain this would
be possible given the current economic conditions. However, what
came out of the deliberations of the environmental task force was
the realization that coordination of environmental endeavors could
make more effective use of our resources.”