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Pomona College Hires its First-Ever Sustainability Coordinator

As part of continuing efforts to step up sustainability, Pomona has hired Bowen Patterson ’06 as Sustainability Coordinator, a new position designed to help improve energy efficiency, reduce waste and deal with other related issues at the College.

The position represents the school's recognition of the need for an individual who can deal exclusively with sustainability concerns. "Students have never really had a point person to go to," Patterson says. "Now they can come to me, and I can help them execute their ideas more quickly and effectively."

The idea of a sustainability coordinator was first recommended in the spring of 2007 in the annual report from the President's Advisory Committee on Sustainability (PACS). Determining the exact responsibilities of the position and recruitment took place during the 2007-08 school year, and Patterson was hired last month. "We were really lucky to find someone who knows so much about the College and sustainability," says chemistry professor Charles Taylor, who serves as chair of PACS.

A Minneapolis native, Patterson majored in Environmental Analysis and was actively engaged in sustainability issues at Pomona. Serving as Environmental Affairs Commissioner for two terms, she created the Organic Dinner and helped re-start the ASPC food committee. She was also heavily involved at the Organic Farm all four years and worked to obtain College and city approval of the earth dome located on the farm.

After graduation, Patterson attended USC and received a Master of Planning and a Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Cities. She also worked concurrently part time for Pomona's Campus Planning and Maintenance office, assisting students with sustainability projects on campus.

As soon as the sustainability coordinator position was posted last spring, Patterson knew she wanted the gig. "It seemed like a convergence of all these different things that I was interested in," she says, "with all of these different skills I have coming together into one place. It was kind of the perfect job for me."

Among the most essential upcoming projects is the sustainability audit, a comprehensive analysis of the campus’ environmental impact. The report, to be published in September, will guide the school's sustainability goals in the future. "Are our heating systems as efficient as they could be? Are we reducing our water use?" Patterson asks. "These are questions that needed a position like this to put together."

Patterson also plans to organize "ready-to-go" projects for Sagehens who have time constraints or are not sure how they can help. "There are usually lots of students who are interested, but might not have the time to start their own projects from scratch," Patterson says. "I'm going to sit down and plan out things so students who can only help in the short term will be able to contribute."

As the school's first sustainability coordinator, Patterson will be vital in helping shape and define the position and its many responsibilities. She is eager to work with many different members of the Pomona community, including PACS, ASPC, the Environmental Affairs Commissioner, the Environmental Quality Committee, and the Board of Trustees. While her office is located in Kenyon House, Patterson plans to hold weekly office hours at Smith Campus Center so that she will be more easily accessible to students.

Patterson says she eagerly awaits what will be a challenging but highly rewarding year ahead of her. "My intent is to be as involved as possible," she says. "I look forward to helping envision what Pomona can be in terms of sustainability, and using that vision to come up with strategies for the College."--Adam Conner-Simons '08