The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education has released a survey of campus sustainability officers, detailing what the officers spend time working on, when their positions were created and how they are financed, and how much the officers are paid.
The survey, conducted in early 2007, generated 62 usable responses, out of about 80 sustainability officers known about by the association at the time. Thirty-four of the respondents came from public institutions, 27 from private institutions, and two from two-year colleges.
The report of the survey showed the booming interest in sustainability of the past several years. Almost 75 percent of the respondents were in positions that were created within the last five years, usually at the behest of an administrator or with the push of a campus committee or student organization.
The sustainability officers said they spent most of their time coordinating sustainability efforts, working with students, or working on energy-efficiency or recycling issues. They spent the least time on environmental-health programs, green dining, and curricular issues and teaching.
Advocates of sustainability programs have warned against putting sustainability officers in facilities departments, where their influence might be limited. Yet that is where many sustainability officers find themselves. Thirty-two percent said they were housed in the facilities department, while 31 percent were part of a sustainability office, 13 percent were in an environmental health and safety office, and 11 percent were in an academic center.
Twenty five percent of respondents said they reported to a facilities officer; 28 percent reported to a vice president for business and administration or a vice president of finance. Only 6 percent said they reported directly to a president.
Now the juicy part: Salaries ranged widely, but most fell between $40,000 and $80,000. The highest-paid respondent, with 20 years of experience, made $150,000. The lowest-paid respondent, with about a year of experience, made a little less than $20,000. Most respondents had around five to ten years of experience. More experience tended to bring higher salaries, of course, but one respondent who claimed almost 35 years of experience made about $30,000.