Women Making History: Gretchen Vanicor

The month of March is Women’s History Month – recognizing and celebrating the vital role of women in American history. Keep Louisiana Beautiful (KLB) is spotlighting several amazing women making history here in Louisiana as they work to protect and improve our environment. 


Today, we uplift the important work being done by Gretchen Vanicor, who serves as Director of Sustainability at University of Louisiana at Lafayette and advisor to the university’s president on the environmental impacts of all university operations, including energy, water, stormwater management, transportation, planning, and development.


With Vanicor at the helm, the office of sustainability leads the university in institutionalizing sustainability throughout the campus and improving the quality-of-life amenities for the whole community. After an overhaul of waste and recycling systems that resulted in 53% reduction in hauling costs and more than 1,200% increase in recycling diversion, UL Lafayette now has a zero waste strategy, which includes, food recovery from dining services,  “Goodwill, not Landfill” for move out, and the “Good to Geaux” reusable to-go dining system.


Vanicor and her team also led an interdisciplinary effort to create a Green Infrastructure Master Plan, which won 1st Place in the EPA Campus Rainworks Challenge. Additionally, the office of sustainability works with faculty and researchers to increase sustainability in the curriculum for all students, and coordinates the campus as a Living Lab initiative. The university was recently awarded a STARS Silver rating by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for their whole-campus, comprehensive approach to sustainable development and resiliency.


As principal investigator, Vanicor plays a crucial role in the implementation of the EPA Gulf of Mexico Grant supporting the Keep Louisiana Beautiful University Affiliate program and the statewide collection of data regarding litter quantities, types, and causes. She holds a B.S. in business management and marketing from McNeese State University, a B.S. in architecture from UL Lafayette, and a master’s in Architecture from UL Lafayette. She is currently in her second year of the UL Lafayette Educational Leadership Doctorate program, with a concentration in higher education administration. Her research focus is studying the social, economic, and environmental benefits of integrating sustainable development and resiliency principles and practices into four-year public universities.


Vanicor is a lifelong Acadiana resident, growing up in Iota.  She now lives in Youngsville with her husband, David, two children, John-Thomas and Rosalie, and rescue dog, Teddy.


Read more about KLB’s new University Affiliate program in this recent blog post.