Sustainability Program Director

The University of Dayton appointed Rebecca Potter as the first director of the newly established sustainability program in the College of Arts and Sciences. Potter is an associate professor of English who joined the faculty in 2002. She begins her new role in January.

The sustainability program will be housed in the Hanley Sustainability Institute and its director will report to the College dean. The program will serve as the curricular home for the Sustainability, Energy and the Environment interdisciplinary minor the College established in 2010. It also will house a sustainability major and graduate certificate currently in development.

“Our students’ enthusiasm for sustainability curriculum has been expanding by leaps and bounds, and Rebecca’s enthusiasm is an excellent match to help students realize their goals both in the classroom and in the community,” said Danielle Poe, College associate dean for curriculum and academic outcomes.

Poe said Potter embodies the collaborative approach needed to create and promote an integrative curriculum that embraces contributions from the College’s arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences units, and from the Schools of Business Administration, Engineering, Law, and Education and Health Sciences.

“Rebecca has been an active participant in discussions to create a sustainability major, and I look forward to working with her to help bring that work to fruition,” Poe said. “Even before that takes place, we will be working to complete a graduate certificate in sustainability.”

Potter envisions the program as a meeting place for a diverse, community-engaged group of students, faculty and staff.

“The campus-wide interest in sustainability and its integration with the University’s mission speaks to how quickly the work of the new program will extend beyond the program itself,” Potter said.

Potter plans to build bridges across the College, the professional schools and the Dayton community. She will work with the University’s Fitz Center for Leadership in Community, Human Rights Center and the River Stewards program to continue their efforts to connect students and faculty to the Dayton community, promote experiential learning, and foster student passion for learning and service.

She also hopes to bring the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences’ annual conference to campus.

Since 2005, Potter has been a member of the Sustainability Energy Environment steering committee. She also has worked in numerous capacities to establish the SEE minor and develop a sustainability major; bring sustainability events to campus; mentor and support students interested in sustainability; and to develop, promote and teach courses in the environmental humanities.

In addition, Potter has spearheaded teaching sustainability-related courses in the English department and developed new courses, such as Literature and the Environment, that have maintained high enrollments.

In 2014, Potter was a visiting scholar at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Culture in Munich, Germany. She is a member of the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences and the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment, among other professional organizations.

College Dean Jason Pierce said Potter will work closely with the Hanley Sustainability Institute’s leadership to align the curriculum with its strategic priorities.

“I am delighted Dr. Potter will serve as the inaugural sustainability program director,” Pierce said. “She brings a wealth of sustainability-related research, advocacy and teaching experience that will help establish this new academic program on the same level as the College’s existing departments and programs.”

Jon Hess, College associate dean for faculty scholarship, internationalization and inclusive excellence, chaired the search committee. Its members included Dan Goldman, Marybeth Carlson, Suki Kwon, Jun-Ki Choi and Tom Hirunyawipada.

- Dave Larsen, communication coordinator, College of Arts and Sciences

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