Skip to main content

Student, staff member receive campus sustainability awards

Media Contact

Joe Schwartz
Kathleen Alvey and Spring Buck
Lindsay France/University Photography
From left, Kathleen Alvey and Spring Buck receive Cornell University Partners in Sustainability Awards Nov. 17 at a ceremony following the President's Sustainable Campus Committee annual summit at the Cornell Plantations Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center.

Kathleen Carolyn ("K.C.") Alvey '12 and Spring Buck, operations manager at Cornell's recycling and solid waste unit, received Cornell University Partners in Sustainability Awards (CUPSA) Nov. 17 for their "critical role in the sustainable transformation of the Cornell campus."

Buck, who works at R5 (which stands for respect, reduce, reuse, rethink, recycle) operations in Facilities Services -- received the staff award, and Alvey, a natural resources major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, was given the student award at a ceremony following the President's Sustainable Campus Committee (PSCC) annual summit at the Cornell Plantations' Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center.

Cornell has given a sustainability award to community and regional partners each spring for the last two years, but starting this year, staff and student sustainability leaders will be recognized each fall. Six staff members and organizations and 11 students and student groups were nominated during a two-week period in early October.

Prior to Buck joining R5 as manager in 2010, she served for 13 years as communications and outreach coordinator in Cornell's Office of Transportation and Mail Services, where she promoted alternative modes of transportation. In her current position, Buck has been responsible for moving the university's recycling to a more cost-effective single stream system, where paper, cardboard, bottles and cans are all collected for recycling in one bin.

This year, Buck worked with the Class of 2014 in Cornell's involvement for the first time in Recyclemania, an eight-week competition among more than 600 colleges and universities to recycle, reuse and compost campuswide and to raise awareness and build enthusiasm for such sustainable practices. She is also leading a process to help the university divert 75 percent of its waste away from landfills.

"She is an example of someone who exhibits the characteristics you seek in an awardee, discovering new ways and methods, engaging and educating those in the Cornell and external community who are key to making the program a success, and turning principles into everyday practice," said Kyu-Jung Whang, vice president for facilities services, who presented the staff award.

"This award is for our entire R5 team and represents our teamwork with the Department of Building Care," Buck said. It "highlights things that every person on campus can do to support sustainability in the way they live every day," she added.

Alvey has served as president of Cornell's Sustainability Hub; vice president and a co-founder of the Take Back the Tap initiative; has worked as the student sustainability coordinator for Facilities Services' Sustainability Office; and served on the PSCC as the undergraduate representative since its formation in 2010. Off campus, Alvey has helped organize grassroots actions against a proposal to extract and transport tar sands petroleum to the United States and has been an active leader in the New York state student Power Shift conferences and the New York Green Umbrella network.

"Kathleen lives and breathes environmental and social activism, constructively and passionately," said Dan Roth, the Sustainability Office's associate director, who presented the student CUPSA. "She is a model campus citizen."