University Sustainability Officer

University of Denver
Denver, Colorado
Posted Date
Aug 15, 2022

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Position Type
Executive, Other Executive
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time
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University of Denver

Founded in 1864, the University of Denver (DU) is a private, doctoral-granting university with very high research activity. DU enrolls approximately 5,700 undergraduate students and 7,200 graduate students. The University has become increasingly known, nationally and internationally, for its creative, 21st-century approaches to problem-based scholarship, as well as its holistic, student-centered approach to learning known as the 4D Experience, and its dedication to the public good through local, national, and international partnerships. Beginning in the fall of 2022, DU will also offer every one of its students the opportunity for a unique set of leadership and outdoor learning experiences at the James C. Kennedy Mountain Campus, just two hours north of its beautiful urban campus. The University plays an integral role in the cultural, social, economic, and educational vibrancy of the fast-growing city and region it calls home. It is also uniquely positioned to address a variety of sustainability challenges produced by rapid growth including sprawl, housing affordability, water availability and quality, equitable access to green space, and others. As a University that participates in AASHE STARS, DU shares a commitment to pursue sustainability in a pluralistic and inclusive way, encompassing human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods, and a better world for all generations.


Denver, CO

The 125-acre main campus is a designated arboretum and is located primarily in the University neighborhood, about five miles south of downtown Denver. The 720-acre Kennedy Mountain Campus is located approximately 110 miles northwest of Denver, in Larimer County.

Position Summary

Reporting to the Chancellor of the University, the University Sustainability Officer (USO) will be the leading champion of DU sustainability efforts, overseeing the University’s overall sustainability efforts, guided by the University’s educational mission, academic excellence, and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This highly motivated and innovative leader will coordinate and integrate the important work being done across campus to help meet DU’s ambitious goals of reaching Carbon Neutrality and Zero Waste by 2030, its new plastics-free campus pledge, and numerous other academic and administrative goals that emphasize more holistic, inclusive, and just environmental practices at the University of Denver.

Primary responsibilities for this position include fostering a culture of sustainability among students, faculty, and staff; identifying and prioritizing areas for institutional sustainability initiatives; planning and developing long- and short-range sustainability programs; engaging with institutional leaders to foster sustainability broadly across campus departments and offices; networking with peer institutions to maintain current working knowledge of sustainability best practices on college campuses; and representing the University at regional and national sustainability meetings. The USO will assist DU in defining sustainability goals, developing performance metrics, and helping to refine long-range plans for sustainability at DU. The USO will also monitor and evaluate program effectiveness, document performance and trends, and recommend modifications to improve institutional effectiveness.

The USO will forge close working partnerships with the Center for Sustainability, which oversees curricular and co-curricular activities. They will also work closely with the Director of Energy, Sustainability and Utilities (DESU) in the Department of Facilities Management and Planning, who is primarily tasked with implementing the drive towards carbon neutrality on campus by 2030. The USO will also lead a newly configured University Sustainability Council comprised of administrators, faculty, students, and staff who will help identify, develop, implement, and promote collaborative sustainability strategies.

Essential Function / Responsibilities


  • Collaborate and intentionally engage with faculty, staff, students, administrators, trustees, and campus committees to advance DU’s leadership in promoting just sustainability.
  • Direct and facilitate sustainability initiatives in DU operations by providing information and assistance to University administration, dining services, facilities, and other departments and programs.
  • Working closely with colleagues in facilities, prepare annual greenhouse gas emissions inventory, carbon footprint, and annual sustainability reports; disseminate results and analysis of progress toward carbon neutrality, utility management, and overall campus sustainability.
  • Lead the University Sustainability Council (USC) consisting of faculty, staff, students, and administrators; work with other campus constituencies to develop and implement strategies for achieving sustainability goals, such as carbon neutrality and zero waste. The Chancellor, Provost, and Senior Vice Chancellor for Finance and Business Affairs are also members of the USC.
  • Lead the effort to update the University’s strategic approach to sustainability in order to include all aspects of the campus’s sustainability efforts.
  • Prepare DU’s Sustainability Tracking and Assessment Rating System (STARS) submission; update the submission annually to keep its information current; disseminate and communicate its results; identify means and methods for continuous improvement.
  • Working closely with the Director of Energy, Sustainability and Utilities in the Department of Facilities Management and Planning and the Faculty Director of the Center for Sustainability, lead and coordinate the Carbon-Neutrality 2030 goal, waste reduction efforts working with dining services, campus life, and other departments on composting efforts at all campus events, and single-use disposable plastic elimination efforts.
  • Partner with Advancement to pursue special project fundraising as appropriate.
  • Collaborate with the Center for Sustainability to advance their vision for the seamless integration of student learning, campus sustainability practices, and research for just sustainability.


  • Chair the Sustainability Council, charged with implementing the University’s most strategic sustainability efforts.
  • Both the Faculty Director of the Center for Sustainability and the Director of Energy, Sustainability, and Utilities (DESU) have dotted line reporting relationships to the USO; the USO will ensure these roles are helping the University attain its most strategic sustainability goals. With this dotted-line reporting structure, the USO, the DESU, and the Faculty Director will actively communicate, collaborate, and coordinate sustainability work to ensure the university attains its sustainability aspirations, which is ultimately the responsibility of the USO.
  • Provide guidance to training programs, and in planning the use of resources, to ensure that the university achieves sustainability goals.

External Engagement

  • Liaise with sustainability directors or equivalents at other education institutions, businesses, governments, and the community to ensure DU compliance with local, state, and national regulations and share experience and practices and promote collaboration.
  • Represent DU at regional and national campus sustainability meetings; facilitate dialogue and networking with peer institutions.
  • Support and grow collaborative relationships with relevant stakeholders and collaborators, such as environmentally-oriented external partners, environmental justice groups, Indigenous communities, and others. The Kennedy Mountain Campus provides a unique opportunity and context for engaging in collaborative work to advance sustainability research, education, and policy.


  • Enhance DU communication and outreach; promote environmental responsibility by generating and managing all content for website, social media, public presentations, newsletters, and other publications as appropriate around sustainability efforts.
  • Work with the Division of Marketing & Communications to promote coverage of sustainability and serve as the primary contact for media on sustainability issues; produce internal and external sustainability communications.


Required Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent in education and experience; advanced coursework or degree a plus.
  • Minimum of eight years of experience in management, sustainability, or related programs required; experience in academic setting desired.
  • Demonstrated record of personal accomplishments executing sustainability initiatives.
  • Knowledge of sustainability theories and best practices in just sustainability that support DU’s educational mission, academic excellence, and public good vision including DU’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; knowledge of local, national, and global sustainability and environmental initiatives; familiarity with the networks of organizations (governmental, non-governmental, and academic) involved in advancing sustainability policy and action.
  • Excellent communication skills including writing, public speaking, and computing skills; demonstrated experience publishing in academic peer-reviewed journals, books, or other professional publications and/or public scholarship is preferred.
  • Ability to creatively overcome obstacles and be persistent; skilled in working with diverse communities on and off campus.
  • Able to work independently, but is an excellent collaborator and team player.

Preferred Qualifications

  • High level relationship building skills with both internal and external stakeholders, and demonstrated success connecting with individuals from a wide variety of intersecting identities.
  • Visionary approach with a strategic mind, strong persuasive skills, and dedication to a goals-oriented approach.
  • Experience prioritizing and completing projects within a budget and measuring success through metrics.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of the importance of people skills including strong and clear interpersonal communications and a history of leading supportive work environments.

Helpful Links

About the Search

The University of Denver is conducting a national search with the assistance of Helbling & Associates (, an executive search firm specializing in areas of facilities management, construction, engineering, and real estate development.

Please Submit Applications or Nominations to 

Helbling & Associates, Inc.

8000 Brooktree Road, Suite 100

Wexford, PA  15090

Ron Baumiller, Executive Search Consultant


O:           (724) 935-7500 x106

C:           (412) 522-9163

Please visit Helbling & Associates’ Candidates Page for more information.

The University of Denver is an equal opportunity employer. The University of Denver prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age (40 years and over in the employment context), religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, marital status, veterans status, and any other class of individuals protected from discrimination under federal, state, or local law, regulation, or ordinance in any of the university's educational programs and activities, and in the employment (including application for employment) and admissions (including application for admission) context, as required by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended in 2008; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the Age Discrimination Act of 1975; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967; and any other federal, state, and local laws, regulations, or ordinances that prohibit discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation. For the university's complete Non-Discrimination Statement, please visit this page of its website.

All offers of employment are contingent upon satisfactory completion of a criminal history background check.



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