The CEC was started in Fall 2002 by a group of students led by Corinna Kester. The students, members of the group Environmental Outreach, had tried to improve UT's recycling program. They wrote a proposal to Facilities Services, but it was ignored.
So, the students decided to found the CEC as an organization that could effectively build partnerships with UT administrators to improve the campus environment. This involved several key functions:
Relationship development (to build partnerships with administrators - this requires us to be reliable & reasonable)
Documentation (so we can know and build upon what previous students did)
Long-term focus (focus on institutionalizing the CEC and its projects as well as on building the movement over time)
Education and leadership development (to build our own capacity and commitment)
Project implementation (some things we just have to do ourselves!)
In 02-03, the CEC was founded thanks to a grant from the National Wildlife Federation Campus Ecology Program. Matching funds were obtained from Student Government, the Environmental Science Institute, and the Volunteer and Service Learning Center.
We obtained space for a desk and bookshelf in the office of the Center for Sustainable Development.
In Fall 2002, we secured Student Government's agreement to have the CEC become an SG agency, and we officially launched in January 2003.
In spring 2004, Patricia Clubb, Vice President for Employee and Campus Services (now University Operations), agreed to fund the CEC's Director position for $8,000/year, starting in the 04-05 school year. During 04-05, Pat Clubb also funded Corinna Kester as a Sustainability Coordinator working in Environmental Health & Safety; she served as unofficial CEC staff person from fall 2004 - spring 2007.
At the same time, due to Center for Sustainable Development’s growth, the Campus Environmental Center moved into SER 207, a space donated by Environmental Health and Safety.
This time period (2005) is when CEC’s most popular event, Trash to Treasure, was held. Its purpose was to serve as an independent source of funds for the CEC, separate from the will or vagarities of relying on UT for money.
During this period, the ECS funding increased, as did funding from the Student Services Budget Committee, enabling the hiring of an official staff person, Karen Blaney, (half-time) in 07-08.
Since 2007, CEC has successfully applied for funds from the Student Services Budget Committee, the group that appropriates funds from part of the income from student fees. As of 08-09, the CEC is considered a stable recurring line in the SSBC budget.
In 09-10, the CEC took a "leap of faith" based on advice from Dr. Clubb and others and restricted the SSBC funds to use for student wages. Fortunately, the gamble paid off, as the Advisor was taken in by Facilities Services' Recycling and Sustainability Branch and given a full-time appointment.
Another important advancement was the allocation of funds from the periodic renegotiation of Coke and Pepsi vending contracts for the vending machines around campus - $20,000 in support of recycling will be given to the CEC for each of four years from 08-09 through 11-12.
While the CEC remained a Student Government agency in 09, its leaders actively negotiated for status as a sponsored student organization/center under Campus Planning and Facilities Management, a large portfolio managed by Associate Vice President Dr. Steven Kraal which includes the Office of Sustainability as well as all of Facilities Services. This Sponsored Student Organization Status was obtained by the CEC in 2010.