Heads of University Management & Administration Network in Europe

Sustainability Summit Speakers

Hannah Aris

PhD student in Biomedical Engineering, University of Galway, IE

Hannah Aris is a PhD student in Biomedical Engineering with a focus in tissue engineering and biomaterial development at the University of Galway. Hannah completed her BSc in Biochemical Engineering from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in the United States in 2018, after which she moved to Galway to pursue her MSc in Biomedical Engineering. After the completion of her MSc in 2019, Hannah worked in a Biomedical physics laboratory in Galway.

Throughout her undergraduate education, Hannah worked in several environmental engineering laboratories on various National Science Foundation-funded projects related to water quality and water pollution prevention. She was also an active member of her local environmental protection volunteer group. Upon moving to Galway, Hannah was eager to maintain her involvement in environmental conservation and sustainability projects. She joined her university’s Energy Society and became the society president from 2019-2023. In this role, Hannah has spearheaded energy awareness campaigns, native tree plantings, beach and forest clean-ups, political debates on the development of Galway, talks from energy, climate, and sustainability experts, an anti-fast fashion show at the European Union and an anti-fast fashion week on campus, bike week, up-cycling competitions, a city-wide Galway Environmental Festival, Meatless Mondays campaigns, and more.

Hannah is an active member of her university’s ENLIGHT program focusing on tying together university and city partners to ensure sustainable development in Galway. Hannah is a member of the volunteer Galway Forest Park wardens and water quality monitoring team, a champion of the Galway National Park City movement, and teaches a sustainability-themed course to primary school students on weekends. Hannah recently gave a speech on the work being done in Galway to promote sustainability at the opening ceremony for the Mary Robinson Center in Ballina to honour the former Irish president and now member of the UN “Elders,” Mary Robinson. Hannah actively participates in Galway Youth Climate events, encouraging young students to pursue sustainable habits, projects, and/or careers in their lives.

Francesca da Porto

Vice Rector for Sustainability, University of Padova, IT

Francesca da Porto is a full professor of Structural Engineering and in 2021 was also appointed Vice Rector for Environmental Sustainability. Prior to this she was Vice Rector for Buildings and Safety. Francesca graduated in Building Engineering at the University of Padua in 2000 and obtained her PhD from the University of Trento in 2005.

Prior to becoming a researcher at the University of Padova in 2006, Francesca held various visiting positions at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya; the National Parks Service, US Department of Interior; and the Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute.

Throughout her academic career she has been an active researcher publishing about 300 scientific papers, and has coordinated several European projects. She has a large international network of collaborations regarding vulnerability assessment of historic buildings and seismic risk.

Francesca is a scientific reviewer of several international journals, evaluator of several international funding agencies, and reviewer for funded research projects by the Italian and Spanish Ministry of Research and University. She is founder and director of the Executive Board of the “China-Italy International Research Centre for Protection of Historical Architectures and Cultural Relics”.

During her appointment as Vice Rector for Buildings and Safety, she successfully initiated and coordinated the University’s alignment program with the United Nations 2030 Agenda.

Hilmar Hofmann

Head of the Staff Unit Sustainability, University of Konstanz, DE

Hilmar Hofmann is the Head of the Staff Sustainability Unit at the University of Konstanz.

The mission of the Unit is to support and coordinate sustainable development in all fields of action pursued by the University. In doing so, it promotes the active involvement of all of the University’s formal committees and groups focussed on sustainability as well as the various administrative units that play a role in facilitating ande and strengthen the transformation process towards a sustainable University of Konstanz. Hilmar’s academic background is in environmental engineering and science, and aquatic physics. His research is based on intensive empirical field investigations that he combines with numerical modelling to allow for generalization of the results in space and time. He is committed to contributing to a more sustainable future for organisations, people and planet. His focus is on being a sounding board for all members of the university who want to shape and implement sustainability.

Hilmar’s team also supports the student-led Green Office.

Chris Ives

Assistant Professor, School of Geography, University of Nottingham, UK

Chris is an interdisciplinary sustainability scientist with expertise in urban social-ecological systems and the human dimensions of environmental management. He joined the School of Geography in 2016 after holding research positions at universities in Australia and Germany.

Chris’ research interests are broad and typically bring together different disciplinary approaches and types of knowledge to tackle real-world sustainability challenges, especially in urban settings. In particular, he is interested in understanding how people relate to and interact with the natural environments, and the dynamics of sustainability transformations. Increasingly my work is focussed on the ‘deeper’ dimensions of sustainability such as values, beliefs, worldviews, and the potential for religion to offer new perspectives on sustainability challenges.

Chris has published research articles on a range of topics including: conservation social science, sustainability transformations, religion and sustainability, urban ecology and urban planning, environmental planning policy and human-environment relationships.

He obtained his PhD from Macquarie University Sydney in 2012 and has since worked on various research projects at the University of Melbourne, RMIT University and Leuphana University in Germany.

Dick Jager

Program manager for Institutional Sustainability, University of Groningen, NL

As a socially responsible institution, the University of Groningen has set itself the goal of promoting sustainable development in every aspect of its operations. This includes sustainable development in teaching and research, as well as excelling in sustainable business operations. The University aims to achieve this by establishing an inspiring, healthy, sustainable environment in which staff and students can work, study and live.

Dick started as the program manager for integrated sustainability at the University of Groningen in 2013. He played a major role in helping to establish the University’s student-led Green Office and a taskforce of students and staff to create a Sustainable Development Roadmap. In 2018 the Green Office became a department of UG jointly led by students and staff. Together they coordinate and initiate projects related to sustainability.

Dick started his career as a research technician in Plant Genetics at UG, after which he worked for seven years at Bioclear Earth, an environmental advisory bureau where with others he did research for the European Space Association (ESA).

Riina Koivuranta

Senior Specialist in Sustainability and Responsibility, University of Helsinki, FI

Riina Koivuranta works as a senior specialist in sustainability and responsibility at the University of Helsinki.

In her work, she develops the university’s sustainability approach that takes into account the core duties of the university as well as daily operations (UH Sustainability and responsibility plan 2022-2024).

She emphasises a whole of institution approach as well as collaboration in national, transnational and organisational level.

She currently acts as the vice-chair of the national Finn-Arma Sustainability group, as well as the secretary of the sustainability working group under UNIFI, Universities Finland, a cooperative organisation for Finnish universities. The work done in the Unifi working group has resulted in 12 theses on sustainable development and responsibility, that represent the Finnish universities’ shared ambition and will to drive change that has a global impact.

Michelle O’Dowd Lohan

Head of Sustainability, University of Galway, IE

Michelle O’Dowd Lohan is University of Galway’s inaugural Community and University Sustainability Officer. Appointed in September 2019, this is a senior leadership position that supports the Deputy President and Registrar to further the aims of the Community and University Sustainability Partnership (CUSP).

CUSP is a multi- disciplinary voluntary team of over 30 students and staff from across the campus and community partners all working together with the common vision of establishing the university as a leading institutional model for sustainability.

Prior to her time at University of Galway Michelle worked for 12 years as the Environmental & Waste Management Co-ordinator at Galway University Hospitals.

Christine Peter

Vice Rector for Sustainability, Information and Communication Technology, University of Konstanz, DE

As Vice Rector for Sustainability, Information and Communication Technology, Christine Peter is responsible for sustainable development at the University of Konstanz. She is also Chief Information Officer (CIO) and leads strategic planing, controlling and coordination in the area of information and communication technology for research, teaching and administration at the university.

She is supported by the Rectorate’s staff units and the corresponding university facilities (especially KIM). Christine Peter chairs the Senate’s Committee on Communication and Information (AKI). She mediates between user requirements and technological capabilities and limits, coordinates the implementation of measures for realizing, further developing and assuring the quality of reliable, safe, efficient, transparent and resource-conserving services and work processes within and between the university units.

The vice rector also serves as the primary contact for the Information Security Officer (ISB/CISO) within the Rectorate, for Legal Affairs and for the Data Protection Officer (DSB). Furthermore, in coordination with the entire Rectorate, she represents the university internally (and externally when necessary) in regard to matters pertaining to information and communications technology (ICT).

Maren Rühmann

Director of the Division of Academic and International Affairs, University of Konstanz, DE

Maren Rühmann has been part of the University of Konstanz since 1993. She studied English Linguistics and Spanish Literature with a one year stint each in Portland, OR, and
Granada, Spain. She started her professional career in 2000 supporting the University of Konstanz in the Bologna process.

Since 2006 she has been the Head of the Division of Academic and International Affairs and thus leads the Directorates of Academic Staff Development, International Office and Equal Opportunities and Diversity. Maren is also responsible for preparing the meetings of the University’s governing bodies, the Rectorate and the Senate. Her division plays an active role in supporting the university’s strategic planning and is responsible for implementing the university’s strategic aims and measures in close collaboration with the departments and other divisions and institutions.

The student-led Green Office is also being supported by Maren’s team. Convinced that students’ creativity is a great contributor to the university’s development she works closely together with the student members of the Senate and the Student Union.

Ina Schwarz

Head of the Department of Construction and Real Estate, Ruhr University in Bochum

An architect by training Ina has a background as project manager in the construction sector and has developed a strong focus on sustainability and energy topics. She has co-founded and is CEO of a corporation between the Ruhr University Bochum and a local energy supplier, developing a central heating plant with cogeneration units and since 2018 supplying campus and the surrounding urban quarters with district heat.

Her operational responsibilities include strategic campus development, procurement, major construction projects as well as the Sustainability Office which serves as a link between various sustainability activities and stakeholders. Her focus is on developing and implementing energy and carbon management strategies.

Elina Tanninen

Sustainability and responsibility coordinator, University of Helsinki, FI

Elina’s role in the University of Helsinki’s Sustainability Unit involves a variety of activities associated with sustainability and social responsibility community outreach and communications.

Prior to this Elina was a Project Manager for the National Union of Vocational Students in Finland, where she was involved in project planning and delivery, co-planning and project delivery with other education institutions and leading a network of project coordinators with different backgrounds located in partner institutions and organisations.

David Vuletich

Senior Director and Strategy and Operations Lead, EAB, US

David Vuletich is a Senior Research Advisor with EAB, a global best practices-based research and consulting firm.

Over the last 6 years, David has worked with hundreds of universities in the United States, Canada, UK, EU, Middle East, and Australia develop and execute on academic and operational strategy, which includes numerous engagements on student experience and environmental sustainability, and how those two ideas intersect around the campus of the future.

Before starting at EAB, David worked as both a healthcare and pharmaceutical consultant, an editor for the Medical College Admissions Test, and started his career as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry in the State University of New York system.

David has earned bachelor’s degrees in astrophysics and chemical physics from Michigan State University, a dual-title Ph.D. in biochemistry and astrobiology from the Pennsylvania State University, and an MBA from Indiana University’s Kelley Direct online program.

Leslie Zachariah-Wolff

Secretary General of the IDEA League

As Secretary General, Leslie steers and coordinates the efforts of the IDEA League of Universities (Delft University of Technology, ETH Zurich, RWTH Aachen, Chalmers University of Technology and Politecnico di Milano) to share resources, knowledge and best practices, in the pursuit of continued excellence. Together with the presidents and rectors of the member universities, she develops new strategies and activities to allow the alliance to have even greater impact in the areas of technology research and advanced engineering education. She also represents the IDEA League to the European Commission Directorate-General for Education.

The recent IDEA League Conference on the ‘Sustainable Campus’ aimed to strengthen collaborations and best-practice sharing in order to achieve more sustainable campuses. Society needs to become carbon neutral, circular, climate adaptive and nature inclusive, and soon! Universities can implement these sustainability goals on their campuses and in their operations. The IDEA League tries to practice what they preach and be the example for other organisations to follow.

Leslie’s background is in Civil and Environmental Engineering, with her own PhD research focused on sustainable residential building design.

Summit Facilitator

Ian Creagh

After serving 10 years as King’s College London’s Senior Vice-President Operations & College Secretary, Ian now holds a portfolio of non-executive and higher education consulting roles. Prior to King’s, he held similar chief operating officer roles at City University London and before that, the University of Adelaide.

The first part of his career was in the Australian Public Service where he rose early on to become a member of the Senior Executive Service. Ian is also an experienced non-executive having served on the Board of King’s Health Partners, the Council of Governors of an NHS Foundation Trust, and the audit committee of the British Academy. He is currently the Chair of the Academic Council of BPP University in the UK,

Since relocating to Europe 20 years ago, Ian became an active member of HUMANE serving on its Executive Committee. He was a regular contributor to the Winter School and was key in the development of its sister Schools, the Berlin Summer School and the Shanghai Transnational Partnership School.