Campus / News / Uncategorized / September 30, 2015

Van Riper leaving with ‘heaviest of hearts’

Sustainability Coordinator Froggi Van Riper talks to seniors Sophia Spooner and Julia Schroeder about new sustainable initiatives during the 3rd annual Sitka Salmon Bake on Sept. 19. (Lizzie Wisdom/TKS)

Sustainability Coordinator Froggi Van Riper talks to seniors Sophia Spooner and Julia Schroeder about new sustainable initiatives during the 3rd annual Sitka Salmon Bake on Sept. 19. (Lizzie Wisdom/TKS)

Director of Sustainability Froggi Van Riper will be leaving her position as Director of Sustainability, but Knox need not worry­­—she’s not going anywhere just yet.

Van Riper will be staying on campus to help her replacement learn the ropes of sustainability on campus. After she’s trained her successor, she’ll be joining her husband in Bellingham, Wash. and working on sustainability consulting.

Three applicants for the now-open position as Director of Sustainability visited Knox in the last two weeks. The last visited this Monday.

No replacement has been named yet, but the committee met Tuesday to discuss the three candidates who visited campus these last two weeks. Students are also encouraged to fill out a survey that will be released via email. The three candidates were whittled down from a list of over 28 applicants. The committee will then recommend a candidate to President Teresa Amott.

Van Riper will not sit on the committee, though.

“I trust them implicitly,” she said.

Sophomore and Student Senate Sustainability Chair Sofia Tagkaloglou sits on the committee. To her, each candidate has come with several ideas, but she wishes she could combine all three candidates into one.

“They all have their benefits and I guess we just have to weigh the trade-offs at this point,” she said.

From where she sits on Senate, it’s important to choose a candidate quickly to allow students involved in sustainability to enact changes as soon as possible.

“We don’t want to delay student initiatives…and we really do need to engage the campus with this new director,” she said.

Post-baccalaureate Leslie Carman ‘15 hopes a new director can carry on Van Riper’s legacy while implementing new ideas. Carman is still actively involved in Garden Club and was involved in KARES as an undergraduate at Knox. She hopes a new director will bring biodiversity to Knox.

“More plants, you know? It’s mostly lawn right now,” she said.

Looking back on her time at Knox, Van Riper is most proud of Knox’s composting initiatives and the bonds she’s forged across departments. Composting involved collaboration with Dining Services and different aspects of the Facilities department.

“The fact that we’ve managed to coordinate all of those to work with one another and to communicate and create channels for communication is almost more important than the sustainability outcomes, because that structure that we’ve fostered is going to allow more and more and more things to happen as quickly as possible in the Sustainability Center,” she said.

She’s leaving Knox with the “heaviest of hearts,” but she’s optimistic about the future of sustainability at Knox.

“I think that sometimes change is a great thing for a campus even though it seems like I’m rushing out of here in a hurry,” she said.

She realizes several students see the job as one with a lot of turnover—before Van Riper arrived in early 2014, Visiting Professor of Biology Paul Skrade filled in as an interim Director of Sustainability. He replaced Shawn Tubb, who left the position after nearly one year.

“Just the marginal benefit of having her here has been extremely large because she’s gotten so much accomplished in the short time she’s been here,” Tagkaloglou said.

Under her guidance, Knox has made substantial strides in sustainability, landing on lists of highly sustainable schools. She’s pushed composting initiatives that brought composting and recycling bins to the Gizmo and introduced zero-waste events. In her tenure, the Knox cafeteria has begun to serve kale and tomatoes grown in the high tunnel.

“I’ve brought a lot to the table but in no way would I ever be so stupid as to believe that I am all that Knox needs for this position,” Van Riper said. “So you’re going to get somebody hopefully who brings strengths to perpetuate what’s in place but to open doors that I couldn’t hold open.”

Kate Mishkin
Kate Mishkin is a senior majoring in English literature and minoring in journalism. She started working for TKS as a freshman and subsequently served as managing editor, co-news editor and co-mosaic editor. Kate is the recipient of four awards from the Illinois College Press Association for news and feature stories and one award from the Associated Collegiate Press. She won the Theodore Hazen Kimble Prize in 2015 and 2014 and the Ida M. Tarbell Prize in Investigate Journalism in 2014. She has interned at FILTER Magazine, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and WGIL radio and the Virginian-Pilot.

Twitter: @KateMishkin

Tags:  director of sustainability froggi van riper paul skrade shawn tubb sustainability

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