SUNY-ESF set to inaugurate fourth president

SUNY-ESF will celebrate the inauguration of its fourth president, Quentin Wheeler, by hosting several events, including an academic symposium and a bioblitz.

The weekend of Sept. 10–13 will be tailored to highlight Wheeler’s new position at the college and the environmental mission of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, said Bob French, co-chair of the inauguration committee.

French and more than 20 other SUNY-ESF faculty and staff joined the committee to help organize the various events for the inauguration.

Wheeler’s inauguration is unique because it does not primarily focus on the formal ceremony, but incorporates two additional events: the academic symposium and the bioblitz, said Valerie Luzadis, a member of the committee.

“These events actually provide an opportunity for the entire ESF campus community and beyond to get engaged,” she added.

Wheeler suggested the inaugural theme of “The New American Environmentalism” to guide the academic symposium and start a discussion between a group of scholars, Luzadis said.

The issue of biodiversity has been instrumental to Wheeler’s career, she added, and he believed it would be a useful thing to examine the different ways scholars view environmentalism.

The discussion will begin with keynote speaker Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, a professor at George Mason University who also works as an ecologist who has worked in the Brazilian Amazon and coined the term biological diversity. In his speech, Lovejoy said he will be talking about the importance of environmentalism and the need to manage the planet’s resources efficiently.

Lovejoy added he is eager to see the changes Wheeler brings to the college as the new president.

“I think it is an exciting new chapter for the university and I anticipate all kinds of wonderful things coming from the university with this new leadership,” he said.

A total of 11 other speakers will be participating in the symposium.

“We wanted to have a conversation that involved a set of national leaders and ESF faculty,” Luzadis said.

David Newman will be one of the SUNY-ESF professors participating in the symposium and said he is still trying to learn what the new environmentalism means in modern-day society.

“I think my role will be to question and just try to get some additional thoughts on what the new environmentalism is,” he said.

In recent years, environmentalism has caused a political gridlock within the government, which has caused a lot of partisanship, Luzadis said. The academic symposium will not a be a forum for individuals to push their political viewpoints, but will be an opportunity to start a national dialogue and come up with better ways to live sustainably, she said.

In addition to the symposium, the SUNY-ESF community and the public will come together on Sept. 12 at Onondaga Lake Park for the bioblitz. The bioblitz is a 24-hour event where everyone participates in taking inventory of all the species of animals and plants in the area, French, the co-chair of the inauguration committee said.

SUNY-ESF students and faculty can also participate in an afternoon campus picnic on Sept. 10 on the SUNY-ESF quad and pay to enjoy a meal with the president at the Sheraton on Sept. 11.

The official inaugural ceremony will take place at Hendricks Chapel on Sept. 12 and will be followed by a reception in the Gateway Center.

Those participating in the event look forward to the inauguration and are eager to see the decisions Wheeler makes as the college’s new president.

“Dr. Wheeler is a man with many ideas and he is coming into leadership at ESF at a time when we are looking at ways to focus our attention at a national level,” Luzadis said. “He is really interested in working with everyone to come up with what our future should look like and help us to get there.”


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