The ASPA Communications committee is releasing Member Highlights each month to show the diverse roles that ASPA members play here at the University of Saskatchewan. We had the opportunity to sit down with the University’s Sustainability Coordinator, Margret Asmuss, to get to know more about her and her role here on campus. Margret is a great example of the great diversity within ASPA.
When did you start working at the U of S? What made you decide to work here?
“I started working here 12 years ago in July of 2004. I came to the university specifically for my current position as Sustainability Coordinator. I had been working
for over 10 years in the area of sustainability mostly in the NGO sector, but also as a self-employed consultant, and when I saw the job posting for sustainability coordinator position, I had to apply. It was a way of taking the work that I had been doing to the next level. I felt it also allowed me the opportunity to make a positive contribution to an institution that has figured prominently throughout my life. I grew up in Sutherland in the era where the university was really the only neighbouring development and the neighbourhood was surrounded by the university campus and lands. I also did both my degrees at the U of S.”
What is your current role in your position? Is it different from where you started at the university?
“Twelve years later, I am still in the same position – Sustainability Coordinator – but the position has changed a lot. When I came here in 2004, I was the only person officially tasked with improving the university’s sustainability and my work was limited to facilitating operational changes and engaging the campus community. During those first years, I really had to focus on some of the easier wins, like moving the campus from a disorganized hodge-podge of 12 different recycling initiatives to a cohesive campus-wide program. Today, I work with a team of five and we facilitate improving the university’s sustainability performance across all areas of campus life: education, research, community engagement, governance and operations (including waste, energy, greenhouse gas emissions and water). It is a huge job and we still have a long way to go, but in collaboration with units from all over campus we show slow but steady progress.”
What are some of the past highlights of your career?
“One of the highlights of my career was when the concept of sustainability made it into the Second Integrated Plan because that was the beginning of a whole new conversation on campus about the university’s role in moving towards a more sustainable world. This happened because many faculty, staff and students wanted it to happen and they made their voice heard. I was really proud of my campus community. What I enjoy most about my work is working with students. Our office works with student groups, students do projects for us in project-based courses and we hire student interns on a regular basis.”
“Working with students is what fuels my optimism for the future. Since it is their future we are working toward, they seem to get sustainability much more than people my age. They are engaged and interested in finding solutions to our sustainability challenges.”
What do you see as ASPA’s role on campus?
“I think ASPA supports a group of employees that is critical to creating the wonderful campus community that we have. My CUPE colleagues keep the physical infrastructure running and Faculty ensure the integrity of Academic mandate of the university. The way I see it, the programs and services that ASPA members provide are sort of like the glue that bind it all together.”