Office of Sustainability

University of Mississippi

The Office of Sustainability

Definition of Sustainability

Sustainability is a multi-disciplinary, problem-solving approach to creating a social system that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations or the needs of the ecological systems in which humans exist.

By fostering education that encourages responsible and equitable management of our environmental, social and economic resources, the sustainability framework challenges our university to consider the interdependent nature of our lives, the natural environment, our communities and the economy and especially the improvement of these relationships.

This definition was researched and written by Jillian Cowart and Kendall McDonald as a part of their 2015 research thesis. 

Mission & Goals

“The mission of the Office of Sustainability is to be a catalyst for environmentally positive change by educating, connecting, and empowering the members of our community for the well-being of people and our ecological systems.”

To support its mission, the Office of Sustainability has constructed the following goals by which to measure its programming:
1. Foster change at the institutional level
2. Influence individual behavior and create a shared sustainability language 3. Understand and communicate sustainability indicators
4. Support leadership capacity and create co-curricular learning opportunities
5. Impact direct change and innovation
6. Diffuse sustainability into academic curriculum
7. Expand partnerships into the community



The Office of Sustainability was established in July 2008 after Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment. By signing this commitment, Dr. Khayat publicly recognized the University’s commitment to the environment and sustainability. Chancellor Emeritus Dan Jones re-signed the President’s Climate Commitment in April 2014, committing to further the University’s efforts to combat global climate change. The university is now a signatory institution in the national Climate Leadership Network.

Meet our staff:

Photo by UM Photographer Kevin BainIan Banner, Director

In 2005, Ian was appointed Director of Facilities Planning and retains the position of University Architect, and Director of Sustainability. He holds a B.A. in Architecture from Plymouth University, a Masters in Philosophy from the University of Cambridge, and is a member of the American Institute of Architects. Ian was born in England and came to the United States in 1984.  He has professional and teaching experience having been in private practice with Shafer/Banner Architects from 1987 to 2002 and with the School of Architecture at Mississippi State University from 1987 to 1994.  He received tenure and the position of Associate Professor in 1994.

Ian’s areas of architectural expertise are in energy efficient design and construction, daylighting, passive systems such as thermal buoyancy “stack-effect” ventilation, and environmental impact of building materials selection.  He has written on architecture and the environment, indigenous houses in the Appalachians, natural lighting in overcast and clear sky regions, and humidity and ventilation of medieval buildings in northern Europe.

Lindsey Abernathy, Associate Director

Lindsey joined the Office of Sustainability in September 2014 as  project manager and assumed the role of Associate Director in fall 2017. Lindsey has worked extensively with the Green Student Intern Program, Green Grove Program, the UM Compost Program, Green Week, Food Day and office communications initiatives. Lindsey is chair of the UM Green Fund Committee and is a member of the UM Energy Committee. In the community, she serves on the board of the Oxford Community Market and Sustainable Oxford. Previously, Lindsey worked in public relations at the University of Mississippi where her she earned national and regional recognition for social media management and a public relations campaign to promote the use of buses on campus. Originally from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, Lindsey holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and an MBA from UM. She and her husband, Andrew, live in Oxford with their son Abe and beagle, Ham.


Kendall McDonald, Project Manager

Kendall joined the Office of Sustainability in 2015 as Sustainability Fellow and assumed the role of Project Manager in Spring 2018. As Project Manager, Kendall works extensively with students through change agent empowerment and sustainability leadership initiatives like like Eco Reps, the Green Student Intern Program, and others. Kendall also facilitates the university’s Active Transportation Advisory Committee and serves on the Woodlawn-Davis Nature Center Advisory Board for the City of Oxford. In 2014, the Udall Foundation recognized Kendall for her dedication to solving environmental issues. In her free time, Kendall makes pottery and participates in migratory bird research through Strawberry Plains Audubon Center. She also enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and gardening.