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Hanley Sustainability Institute

HSI at a glance

Established in 2014 by a transformational gift from George and Amanda Hanley. The Hanley Sustainability Institute’s (HSI) shared vision builds on decades of environmental and sustainability education, research and community outreach. HSI positions UD students, staff and faculty as leaders in the emerging and transdisciplinary field of sustainability. Through deepening existing partnerships and developing many new ones on and off campus, HSI is working with the University and Dayton community to make progress toward a more sustainable campus and community and becoming a leader in sustainability education and research.

HSI Structure

Five Faculty Directors, a Coordinator of Student Engagement, a Scholar for Faith and Environment, 15 undergraduate sustainability student leaders, eight sustainability graduate fellows and over 100 faculty from across the university who have self-identified as Sustainability Scholars. HSI coordinates a graduate fellowship program connected to these Sustainability Scholars to to attract high-quality graduate students with sustainability interests to UD.

Connection to Experiential Learning

The Student Leaders program (Coordinated by Sarah Richard) which enables UD students to make a tangible impact on campus sustainability through their efforts. These campus leaders also participate in a mentors program that connects local sustainability professionals with students interested in pursuing sustainability as a professional career.

Mentored Undergraduate Research

The Sustainability Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program. The SURF program enables an annual cohort of outstanding UD undergrads to spend a full year (including a summer) working on a transdisciplinary research project with sustainability scholars.

Curricular Collaboration

HSI is an Institute that is aligned with curricular programs. These include the long-established SEE (Sustainability, Energy and Environment) Minor, both B.S. and B.A. degree programs in Sustainability (Bob Brecha – Academic Program Director and Professor of Sustainability, and a Graduate Certificate in Sustainability (Felix Fernando, Sustainability Graduate Certificate Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Sustainability).

Strategic Plan and HSI Faculty Directors

HSI advances sustainability through the four pillars of the strategic plan and the leadership provided by the respective faculty directors:

  • Educating and mentoring transformational leaders: Erin Gibbemeyer (Chemical Engineering)
  • Facilitating impactful and transdisciplinary research: Zach Piso (Philosophy)
  • Catalyzing sustainable practices within our institution: Andrew Chiasson (Mechanical Engineering)
  • Building caring relationships with communities beyond campus: Glenna Jennings (Art and Design)
HSI History collage

Podcast tracks evolution of UD's sustainability trailblazers

The effort to forge a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly campus at the University of Dayton began well before George ('77) and Amanda Hanley's $12.5-million gift in 2014 established the Hanley Sustainability Institute (HSI).

Sophia Palmer, a December 2020 University of Dayton graduate, used the Spring 2021 semester to work as an undergrad fellow to produce a four-part podcast series that detailed four eras of how HSI and UD's sustainability program got to where it is.

Palmer, who majored in mechanical engineering and earned a sustainability minor, was an HSI student leader who decided early in her last semester to start a podcast focusing on HSI alumni, friends and others talking about sustainability.

Her idea pivoted to telling an oral history of sustainability efforts at UD beginning in about 1985. Various clubs and initiatives stopped and started along the way. Even though some details are lost to history, the journey has culminated in HSI launching a new strategic plan and the academic program offering four tracks in a major and a graduate certificate.

"Many sustainability initiatives that we see on campus today were started over 30 years ago," Palmer says in her podcast. "Here at the Hanley Sustainability Institute, we understand that we would not be where we are today without the passion, creativity and hard work of many students, faculty and staff across the University. That is why we wanted to document where we’ve been, where we’re at and where we’re going."

"This compelling set of podcasts provides a critical perspective on the rich tradition of sustainability education and action at the University of Dayton that prepared such fertile ground for the emergence of the Hanley Sustainability Institute in 2014," said Ben McCall, the HSI's former executive director. 

In the late 1980s, UD students formed EARTH, a club dedicated to environmental causes. Marianist Sr. Leanne Jablonski, now HSI's scholar for faith and the environment and the director of the Marianist Environmental Education Center, held a protest sign during a balloon launch. Bro. Don Geiger was a professor in UD’s biology department and the founder of the Marianist Environmental Education Center at Mt. St. John. Geiger was a visionary for environmental sustainability in the Dayton area. Geiger, who died in December 2020, was mentioned by many people interviewed for the podcast.

Nan Schivone, a University of Dayton student from 1990 to 1994, said Bro. Don Geiger was 'hugely influential' in her life. Geiger earned a B.S. in Biology from UD, and an M.S. in Botany and Ph.D in Plant Physiology from Ohio State University. He taught at Cleveland's Cathedral Latin High School and spent 44 years as a UD professor.

George ('77) and Amanda Hanley announced their $12.5-million gift to establish the Hanley Sustainability Institute at the University of Dayton in September 2014. The Hanleys, Rebecca Potter and Bob Brecha were two of many key faculty members who were instrumental in getting a sustainability minor launched at the University of Dayton. The 'SEE minor' was approved in 2008.

Hanley Sustainability Institute students met with UD President Eric Spina to discuss the direction of the institute. Not long after this meeting, UD hired Ben McCall to be HSI's executive director. University of Dayton students, including many Hanley Sustainability Institute leaders, took part in the 2019 Climate Strike on UD's campus. HSI faculty and staff helped behind the scenes as the Sustainability Club and others planned the event.


Hanley Sustainability Institute

Fitz Hall, Room 585
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 2950
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