Sustainability takes root in the dining hall

Committed students are raising the profile of what was once a niche movement – food sustainability – on campus.

Seniors Rachel Esbjornsen and J.P. Kemmick spent the summer researching PLU’s food practices, including the origins of food served on campus, the virtues of locally produced food versus organic food, and, ultimately, how food waste is disposed.

The two, along with ASPLU and the student group Grass Roots Environmental Action Now (GREAN), displayed their findings and kicked off the 2006-07 academic year with the first Organic Local Foods Fair in late September. The fair featured a meal made entirely of food that was produced locally and organically, and provided information about what food sustainability is and how to take action.

Esbjornsen received a Sustainability Fellowship to investigate how to create a culture of sustainability on campus in regard to food. Meanwhile, as the student sustainability intern for Dining Services, Kemmick’s work focused directly on how to reduce food waste through composting.

While Esbjornsen researched how to increase the amount of local and organic food available on campus, Kemmick studied how composting would help reduce food waste in Dining Services. Most of the food being tossed could be composted, he said.

Kemmick said he thinks composting would be an easy change to make because it simply involves placing the organic waste, like vegetables from the salad bar, into a composting bin instead of a trash can.

University recycling campaign nabs national press

PLU’s “Can the Can” campaign was featured in the “Short Subjects” section of The Chronicle of Higher Education, the leading national publication for higher education. The article noted that the campaign was held in an effort to boost PLU’s institutional recycling rate from around 65 percent, as it is today, to over 80 percent within five years.

The campaign sought volunteers to trade in their office trash cans for small, 1.5-liter desktop containers. The smaller containers provide far less capacity for garbage, and were intended to serve as a visual and practical reminder that nearly everything that crosses a PLU employee’s desk during the day can be recycled.

About half of PLU’s 674 full-time employees participated in the campaign.

Women’s Center gets new digs

The Women’s Center officially opened its doors at its new location in early November – a house situated on 121st Street South behind Ordal and Ingram halls.

Staff members Bobbi Hughes, Jonathan Grove and Jennifer Warwick moved in to the new Women's Center in November.

The space includes a larger living room with new furniture and a fireplace, and a separate library and meeting room that will allow visitors to use the Internet. The new location also provides space for two new employees. Last year, the center received a federal grant to expand its programming to include a Men Against Violence project coordinator and a victim’s advocate. Jonathan Grove and Jennifer Warwick were hired, but the old center didn’t have enough room for both of them.

The new space will allow the Women’s Center staff to expand the activities it provides, according to Bobbi Hughes, director of the center. It provides flexibility by allowing two groups to meet at the same time – one in the living room and one in the library.

Students tapped by local paper to cover Gore event

By Breanne Coats ’07

Eleven PLU students joined Cheryl Dell, publisher of Tacoma’s daily newspaper, The News Tribune, at the paper’s suite in Key Arena for a live presentation of Al Gore’s now-famous talk about global warming in late October.

A group of PLU students was invited to blog for Tacoma's daily newspaper following the Gore event.

The former vice president told the thousands gathered that saving the world from global warming is a moral issue, not a political one. Gore used a big-screen slide show to demonstrate how the human race is harming the Earth, and how climate change could eventually make the planet unsuitable for human life. The presentation was the basis for the movie “An Inconvenient Truth.”

In exchange for the tickets, the students were asked to blog on the paper’s editorial Web page, and the paper ran a full-length op-ed piece by Amber Morley ’07 in its print edition. In it, Morley acknowledged that most of the attendees at the Monday-night event were probably already converts to “the church of climate change concern,” but concluded that shoring up support through a pep-rally type event does no harm.

“The environmental movement needs everyone it can get, but every small action contributes to a change in the system,” Morley wrote. “So for Gore’s sermon, perhaps the choir is a gracious audience enough.”

Students had to apply to attend the event, and the process resulted in students from a variety of majors, from biology to political science.

The event left many students inspired and searching for how they can personally improve the environment.

“Hopefully you can start a small reaction, which will end in a bigger product,” said Jennifer Henrichsen ’07.

Students go global in January

Students participated in 19 courses in 17 different countries during J-Term 2007, and faculty and students in six courses were selected to blog about their experiences on the PLU Web site.

The students who posted to the blog were asked to respond to four questions regarding stereotypes, values, worldview and daily life. Students’ responses to these questions, along with submissions on topics of their choice, photos and comments posted to blog entries by family and friends, can be viewed at

The questions were intended to lay the groundwork for the “World Conversations: Voices from Around the Globe” event on campus in late February. The two-day series of panel discussions, guest speakers, musical performance and food from around the world brought students, faculty and staff together with the Pierce County community to discuss issues of justice, health, sustainability and peace.

“It was exciting to hold an event that provided the opportunity to mine the depths of international experience we have right here on campus,” said Neal Sobania, director of the Wang Center for International Programs. “Our faculty, staff and students are excellent sources on so very many global issues because, to a large extent, they've really been out in the world and know what they are talking about.”

KPLU names new general manager

Paul Stankavich has been named the new general manager of KPLU, succeeding Martin Neeb. Neeb recently retired after more than 25 years at the station.

Stankavich, 60, left his post as president and general manager of Alaska Public Media in Anchorage to take the job.

In his former post, he oversaw day-to-day operations of the Alaska Public Radio Network, KAKM-TV and KSKA-FM.

“KPLU is one of the nation’s premier public radio stations and one which, in my judgment, is the best jazz and information station in the world,” Stankavich said. “It is a privilege to join the KPLU team.”

Stankavich is no stranger to the Pacific Northwest. Prior to his work in Alaska, he worked in management for Northwest Public Radio and Television (an affiliate of WSU), in Bellingham and at KZAZ in Bellingham. He is a graduate of Bowling Green State University.

Neeb, who started working at KPLU in 1981, guided the progression of KPLU-FM from a classical music format to jazz and made it a premier member of National Public Radio, heard by millions from Victoria, B.C., to Astoria, Ore., and around the world online.

Neeb continues to lead a fund-raising campaign for the construction of a new broadcast center on the PLU campus. It will replace the current overcrowded and outdated main KPLU studio facilities – the same facilities the station has been in since it went on the air 40 years ago. For more information on the campaign or to listen to KPLU live on the Internet, visit

Watada leaves students with mixed feelings

When Lt. Ehren Watada entered Nordquist Lecture Hall in mid-January, more than 150 students, faculty, staff and community members met him with a mixed reaction – some in open support and others in quiet disapproval.

Watada, who gained national prominence when he refused to deploy to Iraq in June 2006 with his Ft. Lewis, Wash.-based unit, was invited to speak following a screening of the documentary “Sir!

No, Sir!” by Students for Peace and the Department of Languages and Literatures.

Watada faced court martial for refusing to deploy with his unit last summer. His refusal was based on his belief that the war is “immoral and illegal,” and his presentation at PLU focused on the similarities he sees between the Iraq War and the Vietnam War.

Students expressed a wide range of opinions on Watada’s refusal to deploy, and the audience included members of Students for Peace alongside ROTC cadets. But the responses did not necessarily break down along predictable lines.

Student Jon Atkins said while Watada has a valid point, he still signed up to be an officer in the Army.

“In my personal opinion, regardless of his views, you sign up for a duty,” Atkins said. “If it’s to pick up garbage, you pick up garbage. If it’s to deliver mail, you deliver the mail, and so on. You don’t decide when not to do your duty.”

The film “Sir! No, Sir!” was made up of interviews with Vietnam veterans and depicted the anti-war movement by soldiers during the Vietnam War. During the Vietnam War, Watada said, the armed services imploded because “the military policy was morally wrong and illegal.”

Student Tracy Rauk said listening to Watada speak was empowering because of his age – he’s 28 – and his willingness to take a stand for what he believes in, even if that means taking on the U.S. government.

“It’s one thing to see (dissent) on a documentary, and it’s another to see it with your peers,” Rauk said.

Julie Kerrigan ’07 worked in the dining hall, measuring the amount of food scraps students leave behind on plates when they are finished eating. The effort is designed to reduce the amount of food being wasted.

Staff members Bobbi Hughes, Jonathan Grove and Jennifer Warwick moved in to the new Women’s Center in November.

A group of PLU students was invited to blog for Tacoma’s daily newspaper following the Gore event.


Employees recognized

Faculty, staff and administrators were honored for their service to the university at the annual Christmas Luncheon on Dec. 14. Terry Bennett, Eva Frey Johnson, Nancy Shonk and Ross Winters received Distinguished Staff and Administrator awards. The university also honored six faculty members for outstanding accomplishments in five areas: teaching, service, research, mentoring and advising. Nominated by their peers, the recipients of this year’s Faculty Excellence Awards were Craig Fryhle, chemistry; Ann Kelleher, political science; Sid Olufs, political science; Samuel Torvend, religion; Clifford Rowe, communication; and Fern Zabriskie, business. For more on each individual, go to

Voice instructor’s recording receives positive review

PLU voice instructor Janeanne Houston’s new recording, “The Shining Place,” received a glowing review in the Journal of Singing. Houston released the 26-song recording in January 2006.

Latvia honors PLU business dean emeritus

Gundar King, dean emeritus of the PLU School of Business, has been recognized by the nation of Latvia for outstanding civil merit. During a June ceremony in Riga, President Vaira Vike-Freiberga conferred on King the Officer Rank of Latvia’s Three Star Order. It is the highest award for service to the Latvian state.

Halvorson receives prestigious fellowship

Michael Halvorson, assistant professor of history, was awarded a three-month research and travel fellowship at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, Germany for his work on relations between Lutherans and Jews in late-16th century Germany. The highly competitive award will fund work for a forthcoming volume of essays entitled “Defining Community in Early Modern Europe,” edited by Halvorson and Karen Spierling.

Storm named Educator of the Year

Marriage and Family Therapy professor Cheryl Storm was named Educator of the Year by the Washington Association for Marriage and Family Therapy in 2006. She has worked at PLU for over 20 years and is the editor of the “Journal of Systemic Therapies.”

Tang made fellow of APS

Physics professor Kwong-Tin Tang was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society for “seminal theoretical contributions to our understanding of intermolecular forces, which govern the properties of gases, most liquids and insulator solids,” according to the society’s citation.

PLU faculty and staff, including Director of Student Involvement and Leadership Eva Johnson, were recognized for outstanding work.