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Alexis Suskin-Sperry
IU Office of Sustainability

Last modified: Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Michael Hamburger honored by IU Office of Sustainability

Jan. 26, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Office of Sustainability awarded its inaugural Outstanding Service Award to Michael Hamburger, professor of geological sciences at IU Bloomington.

The award honors Hamburger's outstanding leadership, service and passion as a pioneer and steward of Indiana University Bloomington's campus sustainability initiatives. An engraved plaque made from salvaged cherry wood and presented during the College of Arts and Sciences' Themester closing ceremony, the award cites his role in creating "a vibrant and transformative campus sustainability organization."

In presenting the award, IU Bloomington Provost Karen Hanson spoke to Hamburger's impact on the campus community.

"Michael Hamburger is a most deserving recipient of the inaugural Office of Sustainability Outstanding Service Award," Hanson said. "His leadership was instrumental in developing Indiana University's serious efforts to address issues of sustainability. His work reminds us all that people need to find ways to live in better harmony with the natural environment, on the campus and in the wider world."

Micheal Hamburger

Michael Hamburger

Hamburger first became involved in the campus environmental initiatives through his work helping to establish IU's Research and Teaching Preserve a decade ago. He was named co-chair of IU's first Task Force in Sustainability in 2007, along with Paul Sullivan, deputy vice president for capital projects and facilities.

Under Hamburger's and Sullivan's leadership, the 16-member task force enlisted more than 100 members of the IU community in the creation of a Campus Sustainability Report.

"Michael was the driving force behind the Campus Sustainability Report. His vision, editorial contributions and his drive to complete the document were outstanding" Sullivan recalled. "He has continued to lead the campus sustainability effort, especially on the academic side, as evidenced by the increase in sustainability-related academic courses and degree programs."

Hamburger recognized early on that student engagement was critical to the success of the task force and Campus Sustainability Report. With the support of the university administration, Hamburger and Sullivan hired the first class of sustainability interns, establishing what would become a nationally recognized program employing 113 of IU's most high achieving students since its inception in 2007.

In support of sustainability goals developed by the task force, IU established the Office of Sustainability in 2009, with Bill Brown as director.

Since then, the Campus Sustainability Advisory Board, led by Hamburger and Sullivan, developed the proposal for the College of Arts and Science's Themester for 2010: "sustain.ability: Thriving on a Small Planet." Hamburger served as chair for the Themester Steering Committee, which coordinated a semester-long initiative that included 145 events and 65 special undergraduate courses.

Hamburger also co-chaired the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Committee with Professor Tom Evans during the 2009-10 academic year. The effort culminated in the submission of a proposal for the re-establishment and modification of the environmental studies program.

"Michael got the ball rolling on sustainability initiatives while serving the campus as associate dean of the faculties," said Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs Tom Gieryn. "He realized, perhaps more than anybody else, that the issue could be a terrific vehicle for bringing together faculty members from diverse units into genuinely interdisciplinary research and teaching collaborations. Our office continues to host the Sustainability Course Development program, which was another one of Michael's brilliant ideas."

The close of the fall semester marked the end of Hamburger's tenure as co-chair of the Campus Sustainability Advisory Board. This spring, he will be on sabbatical, a welcome return to his work in geophysics.

"Michael seems to know everyone and connecting diverse groups on and off campus is a key part of what we do," noted Brown, the director of sustainability. "His patient professor persona, sense of humor, kindness, enthusiasm, knowledge of sustainability, ability to write or speak eloquently on short notice, and uncanny ability to raise money have made him a key to the success of IU Bloomington campus sustainability initiative."