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Doctoral Student Chosen as Delegate to U.S. Department of Education's Sustainability Summit

An Old Dominion University doctoral student in higher education represented the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) at the U.S. Department of Education's Sustainability Summit in Washington, D.C., in September.

Krista Harrell-Blair, who also serves as the 2010-11 student representative on ODU's Board of Visitors, said that attending the summit supported her dissertation focus in the research area of facility design and student engagement.

Hosted by the U.S. Department of Education in coordination with other federal agencies, the Sustainability Summit is a working meeting aimed at articulating a set of action steps for education, business, industry, government and the environmental community to promote the transition to a sustainable, green economy.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was the keynote speaker.

"I felt privileged to represent my national professional organization (NACA)," Harrell-Blair said.

With representatives from a host of government and nonprofit agencies sharing insights on the educational sustainability movement, "I was inspired by progressive college presidents and leaders in the field to not only take action but to be a part of the solution," she noted.

At the end of the conference's second day, teams of summit delegates put forward recommendations for consideration for the next steps that the U.S. Department of Education and the White House need to take.

"I was excited to have a recommendation I supported forwarded on - to convene a group to share information on existing national sustainability initiatives from students and identifying and acting on possible synergies between the groups related to student engagement in sustainability initiatives on campuses," Harrell-Blair said.

As she completes her doctoral program, Harrell-Blair said she hopes to assist ODU in moving forward with sustainability initiatives, noting that the university is a charter member of the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS). "I will assist in the completion of the assessment in the spring. It is critical to integrate sustainability at all levels of the institution - from the curriculum to the practices," she said.

After completing her Ph.D., Harrell-Blair hopes to find a position that combines her passion for sustainability and her experience in student engagement and higher education administration.

This article was posted on: October 4, 2010

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