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Colleges and universities are paying more attention to sustainability

A growing number of higher-education campuses are creating sustainability offices on their campuses, a new survey says.

The report from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), “Salaries & Status of Sustainability Staff in Higher Education-2012,” found that 67 percent of respondents who work on sustainability issues at colleges and universities say their positions are part of a sustainability office; two years earlier, the percentage was just 23 percent.

The data is based on 462 responses to a 57-question survey from AASHE.

Other findings:

  • Full-time positions focused on sustainability are more common—85 percent of respondents said their jobs were full-time, compared with 74 percent two years earlier.
  • 90 percent of respondents say have been in their current positions for five years or less, and nearly half of 2012 respondents were in positions created or upgraded since 2010.
  • Educational attainment for sustainability officers appears to be on the rise; 65 percent of 2012 respondents say they have a master’s degree or higher in 2012, compared with 54 percent in 2010.
  • 84 percent of 2012 respondents say that their institution’s paid, non-student sustainability staff consisted of one to five full-time-equivalent positions, indicating “significant opportunities for continued growth in higher education,” the survey states.
  • 62 percent of 2012 respondents were women, not significantly different from the 59 percent figure in 2010. 44 percent of respondents work at institutions with 20,000 or more students; another 21 percent work at colleges or universities with between 10,000 and 20,000 students
  • Respondents with the title of Sustainability Director or Chief Sustainability Officer reported salaries that average $82,791 a year (a range of $29,120 to $165,000).
  • 50 percent of respondents say their biggest challenge in their jobs was “lack of time to get everything done.” Structural barriers was identified by 42 percent of respondents as a major problem, and lack of financial resources or security was seen as a major problem by 28 percent of respondents.

  Click here to see the entire report. (PDF file)

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