SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- When the third president of the State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse, N.Y., assumes leadership later this year, he will head the oldest and most respected college in the United States that focuses on natural resources and the human environment.
Founded in 1911, the college was distinguished early by its founders' broad view of "forestry." As other schools of agriculture or forestry began to specialize, ESF leaders took a comprehensive view and included such essentials of environmental science as design, engineering, life sciences, and resource management in the curriculum.
The college pioneered research and instructional programs in international forestry, polymer chemistry, pulp and paper technology, chemical ecology, forest technology, forest engineering, urban forestry. cellulose chemistry and forest fertilization.
ESF scientists and educators produced the first television programs on nature and the environment in the United States, led the move to gain professional status in New York for landscape architects (and George Albrecht, a former ESF dean, received license No. 1), and developed processes for bending wood and making wood plastics still used extensively in the manufacture of furniture, sporting goods and musical instruments.
Faculty members today continue to create innovative education, research, and service programs. These include research to develop environmentally sound pulping and bleaching processes for industry, energy efficient polymer membranes, and genetic engineering to reinvigorate the American chestnut; and new courses to help suburban and rural planners help preserve their communities, and a new generation of engineers learn cutting-edge geo-spatial and digital technologies.
Most of ESF's curricular areas have advisory boards comprising industry representatives to ensure graduates will be ready to productively fill positions in industry. "Education" at ESF includes not only the basic science, but hands-on experience in completing professional-level work. About 75 percent of ESF alumni work in the private sector; 65 percent live and work in New York.
Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores and high school class rankings place first-year ESF students in the top 10 percent of all college students attending the more than 230 colleges and universities in New York. While more than 80 percent of ESF students receive financial aid, the college has one of the lowest student loan default rates in the nation.
Most of the more than 30 student clubs on the ESF campus are affiliated with a professional organization and most require members to undertake regular community service projects.
ESF's 1,800 students are served by degree programs in nine curricular areas: chemistry, construction management and wood products engineering, environmental and forest biology, environmental and resource engineering, environmental studies, forest technology, landscape architecture, resources management, and paper science and engineering.
While most other programs in environmental studies were founded after Earth Day in 1970, ESF faculty and staff have been committed, since 1911, to resolving immediate environmental hazards, learning how to avoid future problems, and offering policy alternatives that both will protect the environment and meet the needs of a global society.