A Sustainability Visionary

A Sustainability Visionary

Reflecting on his 30-year career at IU South Bend, Chancellor’s Professor Mike Keen said, “What it really comes down to is helping our students—young and old. Every day you can make a difference in someone’s life. It’s the privilege and responsibility of being an educator.” Keen, who earned his bachelor’s in philosophy from Heidelberg College and his master’s and doctorate in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, is retiring as chancellor’s professor of sociology and director of the Center for Sustainable Future in May 2016.

Today, IU South Bend bears little resemblance to the campus it was when Keen arrived in 1986 as an adjunct professor of sociology. “IU South Bend wasn’t much of a college campus at all,” recalled Keen. “It had a street running through the middle of campus with a Coke bottling facility, a cheese factory, old houses, and run down cars. But even then, I could see that this place was going to grow.”

We are the first campus in Indiana to have a stand-alone sustainability program

During his tenure Keen has been a visionary leader, fostering the growth of IU South Bend’s sustainability movement. One of the accomplishments he is most proud of is the Center for Sustainable Future, which he founded in 2008. In the early years, Keen faced a challenge with no staff, a poor location, limited technology, and a small budget. “It took eight years,” commented Keen. “But the Center was the impetus for developing the curriculum for sustainability on this campus—first with the minor, the graduate certificate, and now the bachelor’s degree in sustainability. We are the first campus in Indiana to have a stand-alone sustainability program.”

Keen is passionate about the role the Center serves beyond IU South Bend in the Michiana community. “Networking is one of the biggest services the Center provides our students and the community,” he explained. “It allows people in this region to come together, connecting faculty and students with government, non-profits, and industry.”