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MSU appoints new Director of Sustainability after year-long vacancy

April 5, 2023
Director of Sustainability Harvey Amoe II.
Director of Sustainability Harvey Amoe II.

Michigan State University appointed Harvey Amoe III, commonly known as Chip, to the role of Director of Sustainability on Wednesday. 

The position has been vacant since Amy Butler died in January 2022. Butler served as MSU's first sustainability director and took on the role in 2018. MSU sustainability employees such as Sustainability Program Coordinator Laura Young stepped up to handle responsibilities until the position was filled.

Amoe will begin his role as director on April 10 following a five-year tenure as the first Director of Sustainability for Henry Ford Health Systems in Detroit. 

Amoe will lead MSU in ensuring the university achieves climate neutrality by 2050. He will develop and implement a sustainability plan that aligns with the MSU's 2023 strategic plan. The plan, unveiled by former President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., seeks to expand upon trends in six areas: student success, staff and faculty success, innovation for global impact, sustainable health, stewardship and sustainability, and diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI.

At Henry Ford, Amoe led the hospital system to replace single-use food service items with eco-friendly alternatives, launched a composting program and installed new electric vehicle charging stations. 

Amoe is also the co-chair of the Green Healthcare Committee for the Michigan Health and Hospital Association as well as the co-founder of the Michigan Business Sustainability Leaders Roundtable

Amoe told The State News he is excited for the opportunity to work at MSU, as the university's current sustainability efforts align with the ones he aimed to achieve at Henry Ford. 

 “I come in with a great base and a great platform,” he said. “Given that it’s the oldest land grant university in the country, it’s right near our state capital, so we can serve as a resource for not only the state but for other communities and frankly, the world because a lot of the work that we’re doing at Michigan State is applicable.” 

His goal is to address climate change and its threat to human health in the best way possible during his time at MSU, he said.

Amoe's focus will not be on enacting the best possible sustainable practices — not just what looks good on paper, he said. It's one thing to tout a good decision with "a lot of storytelling," he said, but another to know the important details behind a sustainable decision.  

“At the end of the day, you need to know, what products did you use? What tools did you use? How did that work? How much did it cost?" Amoe said. "Those types of things are important. That’s the whole point of sustainability, is trying to make the healthy choice, or the sustainable choice, the easy choice."

Amoe's goals aren't focused strictly on East Lansing — he wants to lead by example to have a larger reach with his efforts. Satellite campuses and communities across the state can be benefited from the opportunities at MSU, he said. 

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