About the Environmental Caucus

The Environmental Caucus facilitates creative and strategic communication across campus to advance the institutional commitment to sustainability and to promote education, research, and collaboration on the environment.

  • Focus: The scope and responsibilities of the caucus are defined by participants, with an overarching goal to add value to existing programs and to bring benefits to NAU’s many environmental programs and activities.
  • Participation: The Caucus is open to faculty, staff, students and environmental partners of NAU, and operates through consensus-based decision making. The Caucus has been constituted by the will of participants and is not directed by a particular university office or department.
  • Leadership: Our inter-disciplinary work is guided by the leadership of a steering committee, with members approved by Caucus participants for two-year staggered terms.
  • Implementation: Action Teams develop recommendations and oversee implementation of projects. Recommendations are reviewed by the Steering Committee and brought to the Caucus for approval at monthly meetings. (Current Action Teams are listed in the section Initiatives)
  • Diversity: We value multi-cultural perspectives and engagement from diverse cultural, social and economic communities, believing this to be critical to promoting and healing the environment. We welcome participation and leadership from all ages and levels of experience on campus. The Caucus also seeks broad representation across university departments and divisions.

What is the structure of the Caucus?

Organizational Tree of Sustainable Initiatives in NAU
The caucus is a voluntary association, not an administrative, academic or financial unit. Like an ecological system, the Caucus is a set of components functioning together as a whole. Its informal structure allows flexibility to create efficient and effective linkages. The Caucus is one of the few, if not the only, group on campus where students, faculty and staff interact as peers and work actively to brainstorm, share information, and put their ideas into action. In fact, one of the most effective and enjoyable aspects of the Caucus is its emphasis as a cross-disciplinary, non-hierarchical forum for communication. This structure seems to bring about a lot of creative energy, efficiency and optimism. From students to university vice presidents, from faculty to operations staff, everyone in the Caucus plays a critical role.
We meet once each month for communication at the Monthly Environmental Caucus Meeting. This meeting is open to anyone from NAU and local communities.
The Caucus has formed a Steering Committee with two year rotating terms to plan and coordinate meetings, set priorities, and support projects. The members of this committee are coming from diverse backgrounds, representing different departments of the university. This diversity contributes to the expansion of opinions and opportunities during Environmental Caucus decision-making processes. Environmental Caucus Steering Committee Meeting occurs one week before the Monthly Environmental Caucus Meeting and is closed to the public.

Official Members of Environmental Caucus Steering Committee 2013-2014

Scott Perelstein: Chair, Associate Director, Residence Life

Rod Parnell: Vice Chair, Professor, School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability

Kristina Aksenova: Graduate Assistant, Environmental Caucus; Master of Arts in Sustainable Communities candidate

Jim Allen: Director, School of Forestry

Blase Scarnati: Director, First Year Seminar Program

Lindsay Wagner: Manager of Utilities and Infrastructure

Ellen Vaughan: Sustainability Manager, Office of Sustainability

Agnes Drogi: Construction Manager, Capital Assets and Services

Kimberley Curtis: Director, Master of Arts in Sustainable Communities; Professor, Criminal Justice

Eva Putzova: Director, University Policy Initiatives

Derek Hansen: Marketing Coordinator, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs

Sheila AndersDirector of Administrative Services in the Center for International Education

Lauren Berutich: Director of Campus and Community Action Research Teams

Abrahan Garibay: Student, Green Fund and Student Environmental Caucus representative

Are students involved?

Both undergraduate and graduate students are involved in the Environmental Caucus. In addition, in 2009 students formed a separate but related Student Environmental Caucus to bring together the various student groups working on environmental concerns on campus. For more information on the Student Environmental Caucus, contact Kevin Ordean at Kevin.Ordean@nau.edu

Why have we formed an Environmental Caucus?

Over the past several years, many of us have wrestled with the paradox of our campus strength in environmental and sustainability programs: we have tremendous breadth and depth of programs, yet they are literally buried in dozens of units on campus. This diffuse structure makes it difficult for the university’s internal and external partners to identify a particular person or resource. In the aggregate, we missed significant opportunities to highlight and promote the excellent work we are doing to prospective students, potential collaborators, and interested funders. At times, a structural solution has been proposed to try to unite these programs in a single administrative unit. 

The Environmental Caucus thanks former Steering Committee members

Liz Wiggen: Environmental Caucus Graduate Assistant
Cruz Begay: Health Sciences Faculty
Laura Cagney: SESES Grad. Student
Marianne Davis: Capital Assets Project Manager
DeJa Walker: SESES Undergraduate Student
David Schlosberg: Politics & International Affairs Faculty
Megan Stalheim: Franke College of Business Graduate Student
Bruce Hungate: Biology Faculty
Heather Farley: Office of Sustainability Coordinator
Emily Anderson: Sustainable Communities Graduate Student
Kristen Bullard: Cline Librarian
Jacqueline Vaughn: Politics & International Affairs Faculty
Rich Bowen: Economic Development & Sustainability Associate VP
Thomas Rogers: Professor, Office of the President and Extended Campuses
Shelley Silbert: Previous Chair of the Environmental Caucus
Kathee Rose: Cline Library
Rom Coles: Community, Culture & the Environment
Kevin Ordean: M.A. Sustainable Communities Candidate