Mines News

Release Date Monday, May 1, 2023

South Dakota Mines and Black Hills State Hire Sustainability Coordinator to Drive Student Education, Environmental Stewardship and Cost Savings

Maggie Torness is the new sustainability coordinator at South Dakota Mines and Black Hills State.

South Dakota Mines and Black Hills State University have jointly hired a new sustainability coordinator who will help develop and lead student education and research efforts and drive campus sustainability initiatives that reduce the impact on the environment while saving money.

Maggie Torness is a Black Hills State alumna who is finishing her master’s degree at the University of Vermont. She previously worked as a student assistant for the sustainability coordinator at Black Hills State and is now taking on this role for both Mines and Black Hills State. She will split her time weekly between the two campuses. 

“I’m trying to be a central place for all the sustainability efforts at both schools. People across these institutions are already doing great work on campus and in the community, and I am working to be that point person who can help amplify the work being done,” says Torness.

At Mines, Torness will be based in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and she will work closely with faculty and students. Torness can also help funnel grant funding from outside organizations in support of sustainability programs and research.

Torness is excited to engage in assisting cutting-edge research across many fields at Mines. “The research being done at Mines has the potential to contribute to solving some of our world's most pressing issues, which are issues of stainability,” she says.  “How will we continue to supply energy in an ecologically sound and socially just manner? How will we create more resilient food systems so that everyone in the community has access to healthy, affordable food? How will we ensure that all generations after us will have access to sufficient quantities of clean water? These are difficult questions without easy answers, but the work being done on these campuses has the ability to contribute to solving these problems, benefitting the community, globe, and future generations in the process.”

Torness notes a state legislative initiative that began in 2020 to examine cost saving measures at both Black Hills State and South Dakota Mines helped form this position between the two institutions.

“Because the cultures between Black Hills State and South Dakota Mines are so different, both schools have really different strengths, so collaboration can be very beneficial to each school and the region as a whole,” says Torness.

"For several years, I've been advocating the importance of bringing onboard a campus sustainability coordinator for our campus,” says Jim Stone, Ph.D., head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Mines. “With Maggie now onboard, this will help us centralize and streamline all of our sustainability activities and efforts - from research, classrooms, facilities and student activities - under one domain.  We're all looking forward to working with Maggie as we better prepare our students for the sustainability challenges of tomorrows workforce."

The cost savings associated with sustainability efforts have led industry to increasingly seek interns and graduates who have training in sustainability and environmental stewardship. “The workforce of tomorrow is going to be geared towards solving these issues in sustainability, and so it's vital for these institutions to prepare their students in these areas,” Torness says. “Adopting sustainability practices can result in monetary savings for both industry and institutions, while meeting the growing ethical demands of students and society." 

Torness notes there are many different ways to view the benefits of sustainability. She points to the relationships between the ecological realm, the social realm and the economic realm. “Creating bridges to tie these systems together can help create efficiencies that benefit people, our communities, our environment and our economy,” she says.



About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Mike Ray, 605-394-6082, mike.ray@sdsmt.edu

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