Global Institute of Sustainability Leadership Directorate created

Shangraw appointed Director; van der Leeuw appointed Dean; Melnick continues as chief operating officer and executive dean

ASU President Michael M. Crow today announced R.F. “Rick” Shangraw, Jr. has been appointed director of the Global Institute of Sustainability, a key all-university research initiative. Shangraw also serves as ASU’s senior vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development.

Simultaneously, ASU Provost and Executive Vice President Elizabeth D. Capaldi announced the appointment of Sander van der Leeuw as dean of the School of Sustainability. He will also continue as director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and co-director of the Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative.

Rob Melnick continues as GIOS chief operating officer and executive dean. He, along with Shangraw and van der Leeuw, form the institute’s new directorate providing overall leadership to GIOS and its School of Sustainability.

“The provost and I decided to appoint Dr. Shangraw and Dr. van der Leeuw following a national search for a new GIOS leadership team,” explains Crow. “Given Rick’s strong leadership credentials and his deep expertise and experience in energy and environmental issues, he’s ideally suited to lead GIOS during this next phase of the institute’s development.”

Shangraw’s involvement with sustainability issues began in the 1980s when he worked on energy issues at the Rand Corporation. He was later part of the team that led the largest environmental cleanup program in the world – the remediation of the United State’s nuclear weapons complex. He has extensive consulting experience with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Park Service.

“I’m excited about this opportunity to work more closely with ASU faculty and staff in advancing sustainability,” explained Shangraw. “This is one of the most important issues of our generation and I am eager to make a difference in this area.”

The provost said van der Leeuw is uniquely qualified for the dean position, having impressive teaching and research credentials, a passion for sustainability and a record of relevant intellectual contributions, and the respect of the faculty. “Sander has shown the ability to build a strong multidisciplinary academic unit in his record as Director of the School of Human Evolution and is the right type of leader to build upon the strong foundation established by current school director Chuck Redman.”

van der Leeuw is an archeologist and historian by training, having held numerous academic appointments in the United States and Europe." Much of his research focus has been at the intersection of society and the environment from distant past to present. Since 1992, he has been involved in a series of European Union research projects in the area of modern socio-natural interactions and environmental problems, in a network of long term socio-environmental research sites in the countries along the northern Mediterranean rim. He’s also exploring environmental perception and policymaking. van der Leeuw is an External Professor of the Santa Fe Institute and a Corresponding Member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. He teaches courses on the ethnography of innovation.

van der Leeuw said, “It will be an honor and privilege to work closely with the faculty to ensure we aren’t just known as the first university sustainability school in the nation, but the ‘best’ sustainability school in the world,” he said. “Chuck Redman has done a wonderful job leading and growing this school, I’m looking forward to continuing the journey.”

Crow and Capaldi acknowledged Melnick for his outstanding work during the past two years with GIOS students, staff, faculty and Board members. “Together, Rick, Sander and Rob form a very powerful leadership cadre for GIOS and the School,” they said.

About the School of Sustainability in the Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University (ASU)

The Global Institute of Sustainability is the hub of ASU’s sustainability initiatives. The Institute advances research, education, and business practices for an urbanizing world. Its School of Sustainability, the first of its kind in the U.S., offers transdisciplinary degree programs that advance practical solutions to environmental, economic, and social challenges – especially as they relate to urban areas. For more information: or

R. F.“Rick” Shangraw, Jr., Global Institute of Sustainability, (480) 965-1225
Sander van der Leeuw, School of Sustainability, (480) 965-6215
Rob Melnick, Global Institute of Sustainability, (480) 965-5233

Media contacts:
Skip Derra, [email protected]

Karen Leland, [email protected]
Global Institute of Sustainability