Humans of UWL: Andrew Ericson


Andrew Ericson. Photo taken by Anna Fischer.

Creating the position of an on-campus Sustainability Program Manager has been a 15-year process in the making. Now, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse joins the list with ten other UW System schools, who are working to provide students with more environmental opportunities through their position.

Andrew Ericson received a Bachelor of Science in chemistry with an emphasis in environmental science and a minor in mathematics. He graduated from UWL this past spring and was hired as the first Sustainability Program manager in UWL’s history.

“People told me advocacy for this position has been ongoing since the late 2000’s,” said Ericson, “so there’s a lot of history behind it and a lot of advocacy by countless students, faculty, staff, and committee members.”

In the spring of last year, the university’s Division of Administration & Finance committed to covering $35,000 of the expenses needed for this new on-campus position, under one condition.

“[The Division of Administration & Finance] essentially said if you can find the other half through some sort of student-funded area, we can join forces, go half and half, and create this position. So, former student body President Jared Zwettler and former student body Vice President K.C. Cayo started to see what our options [for funding] looked like. They determined that using the Green Fund would be the best option.”

The Green Fund was proposed by students and passed in a student referendum in the spring of 2008; it states that each semester a little over $10 will be taken from each student’s account and placed into the Green Fund. Totaling around $100,000 per year, the money is then used to fund environment-focused projects submitted by students and faculty. Ericson’s position took three years to fund.

Ericson, now the advisor for the Green Fund, was present for the Student Association (SA) meeting when his current position was signed and approved by Chancellor Joe Gow. “I was very excited about what it could be for the university. It was very exciting,” said Ericson.

During his time as a student at UWL, Ericson was in SA for two and a half years, Green Fund coordinator for two years, and served on the Joint Committee on Environmental Sustainability (JCES) for two years.

When it comes to his day-to-day tasks, Ericson said his new job isn’t that much different from what he was already doing. “The actual transition to what I’m doing now isn’t totally different. I was very involved as a student and was just trying to get some of the things that I’m doing now rolling.”

Ericson said one of his new major tasks involves figuring out how his new position fits into the “identity of the university.”

“When I was a student, the one thing I wanted was to have more time to work on sustainability, and now I’ve got that.” Ericson said he encourages any students and faculty to come visit him (Union 2255D in the COVE).