The Campus Environmental Center is a community of students who explore, learn about, and act on contemporary environmental issues on campus and in the Austin area. We welcome diverse interests, ideas, and perspectives as we grow together to become effective environmental change-makers now and in the future. We are proud to be the oldest and largest student organization at The University of Texas Austin for those interested in the environment, and we are sponsored by the UT Office of Sustainability.
To empower the University of Texas at Austin community to pursue a genuine culture of environmental sustainability through constructive and dynamic means.
The five paths to fulfilling our mission:
Understand and Act — Grow a community of students that learn about and take action to protect the natural environment.
Educate Others — Raise awareness in the UT community about diverse environmental topics and issues on- and off-campus.
Be a Leader — Develop leadership and professional skills through team-based projects, programs, and initiatives.
Try New Ideas — Incubate student projects that may become free- standing aspects of sustainability on campus.
Collaborate — Work with partners to effect change toward a more environmentally sustainable campus and world.
Our Vision for the 2020-21 Academic Year
To educate the UT campus with intersectional, environmental knowledge and engage students so that they are empowered to take action in a manner that is suited to their strengths and skills.
History of the CEC
2002 – 2003
The Campus Environmental Center 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 did not gain wide support.
The students then decided to found the CEC as an organization that could effectively build partnerships with UT administrators to improve the campus environment.
In Fall 2002, the Student Government agreed to have the CEC become an official agency of Student Government. The CEC officially launched in January 2003. The CEC was able to begin thanks to a grant from the National Wildlife Federation Campus Ecology Program and matching funds from Student Government, the Environmental Science Institute, and the Volunteer Service Learning Center.
2004 – 2009
In spring 2004, Dr. Patricia Clubb, Vice President for Employee and Campus Services (now University Operations), agreed to fund the CEC’s Director position, starting in the 2004-05 school year. During 2004-05, Dr. Clubb also funded Corinna Kester as a Sustainability Coordinator working in Environmental Health & Safety; she served as the unofficial CEC staff person from fall 2004 – spring 2007.
This time period (2005) is when one of CEC’s most popular events, Trash to Treasure began. Its purpose was to serve as an independent source of funds for the CEC. During this period, Employee and Campus Services funding increased, as did funding from the Student Services Budget Committee (SSBC), enabling the creation of a part-time official staff Advisor position.
Since 2007, CEC has successfully applied for funds from the SSBC, the group that appropriates funds from part of the income from student fees. As of 2008-09, the CEC was considered a stable recurring line in the SSBC budget.
2009 – 2014
In 2009-10, 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.
While the CEC remained a Student Government agency in 2009, the CEC leaders actively negotiated for status as a Sponsored Student Organization under Campus Planning and Facilities Management, a large portfolio 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 and has been renewed annually.
During this period the CEC grew substantially in size and scope, taking on new environmentally-related projects and employing over 20 student staff.
2015 – 2017
In January 2015, Campus Planning and Facilities Management divided its structure into Campus Planning & Project Management and Utilities, Energy & Facilities Management. The CEC became housed under the Office of Sustainability within Campus Planning & Project Management.
In September 2017, the CEC welcomed it’s first General Membership. These students were able to be involved in the organization without having to join a specific project team. The CEC also established a team to specifically handle Education and Outreach with the goal of educating students not involved in the CEC.
Starting in Fall 2018, the CEC is focusing on fostering a diverse and inclusive community to offer environmental experiences to all students on campus. The CEC strives to do this through increased promotion to various majors, backgrounds, and cultures. The community is open to all and can be utilized differently by each student involved. No application, no points system.