Office of Sustainability manages new director, integration into CLAS

Stratis Giannakouros, the new director of the Office of Sustainability and the Environment, discusses his new position and the office’s integration into CLAS.


Charles Peckman

Office of Sustainability and the Environment Director Stratis Giannakouros poses for a portrait on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018.

Charles Peckman, News Reporter

As the University of Iowa continues to work toward its 2020 sustainability targets, the Office of Sustainability & Environment, which oversees many of the university’s green initiatives such as Recyclemania, is undergoing two major changes.

In addition to integrating into the UI College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the office also has a new director, Stratis Giannakouros.

Although he said he is still becoming accustomed to the inner workings of the campus, he noted that he’s no stranger to Iowa City.

“I’m just starting to understand the landscape here at Iowa, but I am originally from Dubuque,” he said. “As a native Iowan, I grew up around the University of Iowa, cheering for the Hawkeyes, and coming to the campus for different campus events. Most of my family has attended the university at one time or another.”

Giannakouros said he feels confident in the office’s ability to adapt to change.

“I think that the move into the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences is a really advantageous transition, because of the diversity of the offerings and size of the college,” he said. “Moving into a college will help us to meet our goals around student engagement and raise the academic profile of sustainability at the university.”

Although Giannakouros said the UI is taking steps in the right direction to enact local green change, there is still much work to be done on a larger scale.

“No matter how much good work we do in Iowa, many of the challenges we encounter are transboundary in nature and require that we work across state lines and national boundaries to solve them,” he said. “The University of Iowa is uniquely positioned as a nationally and internationally recognized institution to play a positive role in this regard.”

Before his role at the UI, Giannakouros was the program manager for the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University. When he arrived at the UI, he said, he was taken aback by all of the sustainable initiatives on campus.

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“I was surprised to see how many different activities related to sustainability are taking place from academic colleges to student orgs. There is a lot of good work to build upon at the university,” he said. “I was really surprised to find out that there are more than 220 students in the sustainability certificate. That said, I think there is room for the certificate to grow. It is such a great way for students to get exposure to sustainability and position themselves for interesting careers when they graduate.”

George McCrory, a communications specialist at the Sustainability Office, said there will be many challenges that come with a new director and integration into the Liberal Arts College, but he believes “these challenges will get students more involved and engaged in sustainability.”

The transition has been smooth so far, McCrory said, and he believes Giannakouros is the right choice for the job.

“I think Stratis brings a lot of experience to student involvement,” McCrory said. “He’s inquisitive, high-energy, and will be great to bring a different perspective to the office.”

In addition to a student-centric focus, he said, the office is working to increase student outreach.

“I think we are hoping to continue outreach and education activities,” recycling coordinator Beth MacKenzie said. “I think it is an exciting time, because there are so many new possibilities.”

Overall, Giannakouros said, he is “really prepared to take on the next set of challenges.”