Published April 20, 2023
UB Sustainability announced the recipients of its 2023 Sustainability Leadership, Innovation and Collaborative Engagement (SLICE) Awards on April 11 at the completion of an event updating the campus community on the university’s climate action plan.
The SLICE Awards recognize outstanding individuals and departments that exhibit a sincere commitment to transforming UB’s campuses into a holistically sustainable community through leadership, innovation and collaboration that demonstrates environmental stewardship, enhances social progress or promotes responsible economic systems and growth.
“Since their inception in 2015, UB’s SLICE Awards have provided us a way to shine a light on the exemplary sustainability efforts of the UB community,” Laura Hubbard, vice president for finance and administration, said before handing out this year’s awards. “Each year, we are in awe of all that is done, both on and off campus, to improve our planet and humankind, and this year is no different.”
Each recipient received a brick from the historic Butler mansion that was home to the Jacobs Executive Development Center. Below are this year’s award winners.
Faculty Award for Sustainability in Higher Education: Kim Diana Connolly, professor in the School of Law, vice dean for advocacy and experiential education and director of clinical legal education.
Connolly’s work to create sustainability-related learning opportunities for law and other graduate students at UB has provided meaningful and lasting impact for those involved, as well as the Western New York community. This work includes designating the U.S. side of the Niagara River Corridor as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in the United States, fighting against a new toxic waste dump in Niagara County, and founding and directing #UBLawResponds Puerto Rico Recovery Assistance Legal Clinic.
Her clinics and classes provide direct service to the community in terms of increased sustainability by deploying legal and policy mechanisms to simultaneously educate and make change to achieve environmental justice and awareness.
Staff Award for Sustainable Operations Initiative: Janice Cochran, nutrition and physical activity promotion coordinator in Health Promotion. Cochran is being recognized for her steadfast work to infuse sustainability into the day-to-day operations of Health Promotion and ensure that the campus community understands the impact its food choices have on the planet.
Cochran has been a tireless advocate for sustainability on campus for more than two decades.
Her efforts to infuse sustainability into daily office operations by implementing compost collection and recycling education not only reduce the impact of Health Promotion, but also serve as a way to engage student-patients.
Cochran’s expertise on the impacts that food choices have on the environment has improved the health of the UB community and the planet. In addition, by coordinating UB’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, she has ensured students and staff have access to the freshest local fruits and vegetables available. Cochran has also worked to ensure students in need have access to healthy foods at no cost.
Award for Sustainability Excellence by a Department or Operations Initiative: UB student chapter of the Food Recovery Network (FRN). Katie Holzmacher accepted the award on behalf of the group, which was recognized for its dedication to ensuring that no food goes to waste on campus. FRN volunteers have worked closely with Campus Dining & Shops to collect surplus food from UB dining halls and distribute these items to local community nonprofits. Since its founding in 2020, FRN has collected more than 21,000 pounds of food and delivered over 17,000 meals to local organizations serving people in need. As a result of its work, the Food Recovery Network has helped remove the equivalent of over 18,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide.
Student Leadership Award for Sustainable Action: Devon Gorbey, a PhD student in the Department of Geology, and Andy Whitehead, a master’s student in the School of Social Work.
Gorbey founded UB’s Science and Health Policy Club, which has provided over 100 graduate students from 35 departments with training and opportunities to directly engage with policymakers and build transdisciplinary collaborations. Gorbey’s dissertation explores how rainfall in the Arctic changed during ancient warm periods. Throughout her research and field work in the Arctic, she witnessed firsthand the deep impact climate change is having on Arctic communities and felt despondent that local and national conversations around climate change were still focused on the validity of climate science, when its impacts were already having severe affects.
As an assistant hall director for Wilkeson Quadrangle, Whitehead has held numerous sustainability events engaging hundreds of students, including kickstarting a reusable dryer ball program in the residence halls, replacing all plastic cups in Wilkeson’s Coffee House with reusable mugs and implementing a composting program for all coffee grounds and food leftovers at the Coffee House.
While interning at East Community High School, Whitehead saw the economic challenges students faced and organized fundraising activities to help. The money collected was donated to purchase materials for the senior prom, and Whitehead also arranged a dress drive to ensure students would have gowns. Whitehead is now helping the students build a green space to garden and grow their own produce.