The Campus Environmental Center (or “the CEC” for short) is the premier organization at the University of Texas Austin for students interested in the environment. We are a registered student organization sponsored by the UT Office of Sustainability.

Mission Statement

To empower the University of Texas at Austin community to pursue a genuine culture of environmental sustainability through constructive and dynamic means.

We pursue our mission through the following objectives:

Understanding and Acting — Growing a community of students that learn about and take action for the natural environment.

Educating Others — Educating the UT community about contemporary environmental issues.

Leading Teams — Developing knowledgeable and skilled leaders through team-based programs and initiatives.

Incubating Ideas — Incubating student projects that become institutional or free-standing aspects of sustainability on campus.

Collaborating — Collaborating with on- and off-campus partners to effect change in policy and practice toward a more environmentally sustainable campus, community, and world.

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.