News Release

University of Minnesota hires first systemwide chief sustainability officer

umn banner hanging off lamp post on campus

The University of Minnesota is proud to announce Shane Stennes has been hired as its first systemwide chief sustainability officer (CSO), effective May 9.

As CSO, Stennes is responsible for leading the University’s sustainability strategy, planning, programs and initiatives across its five campuses. Stennes also collaborates with leaders to drive sustainability initiatives across the University System as outlined by President Joan Gabel’s MPact 2025 strategic plan. These include building a fully sustainable future by demonstrating state and worldwide leadership in sustainability and environmental teaching and research; responsibly using resources, reducing waste, keeping water, air and land clean; and transitioning away from fossil fuels.

“Sustainability has long been a top priority for the University and Shane’s extensive expertise and experience make him an excellent fit to lead and expand upon our sustainability objectives, including creating climate action plans for each of our five campuses,” said Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations Myron Frans.

Stennes joined the University in 2006 and has served as the director of sustainability on the Twin Cities campus since 2015. During that time, he stewarded the development of the campus’ first climate action plan, piloted the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s environmental justice framework during the approval of the combined heat and power project and coordinated efforts to achieve a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2021.

He also largely contributed to the University’s high placement in several categories in the Times Higher Ed Impact Rankings, which compare educational institutes worldwide for their commitment to conduct research, outreach, stewardship and teaching in areas of building a more sustainable, equitable and healthy future. This year, the University ranked No. 16 in the world and No. 5 in the U.S. for its work related to combating hunger and No. 2 in the U.S. and tied for No. 57 in the world for its work related to promoting good health and well-being.

“This is a time to be bold, as sustainability efforts at the University, in Minnesota and around the world are at a critical inflection point,” said Stennes. “I am honored to take on this role and I look forward to working with students, faculty, staff and external partners to accelerate our efforts and amplify our impact without delay.”

A search is underway for a sustainability project manager to support systemwide sustainability efforts.

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