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ESF to Inaugurate Quentin Wheeler as 4th President

Inauguration events include picnic, symposium, bioblitz

Dr. Quentin Wheeler will be formally inaugurated Sept. 12 as the fourth president of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).

The formal installation ceremony, at 10 a.m. Sept. 12 in Hendricks Chapel, will be the centerpiece of series of events focused on academics, research and community. Events will begin at noon Wednesday, Sept. 10, with a kick-off picnic on the ESF Quad for students, faculty, staff and other members of the college community.

On Thursday, Sept. 11, the focus will turn to academic discussion with a symposium titled, "Foundations for a New American Environmentalism." The symposium's objectives are to invite reflection on the values, visions and strategies that have characterized environmentalism in the past, lay the groundwork for a continuing national conversation informed by science and compassion, and motivate and empower a new generation of students, citizens and young academics to re-imagine and reinvent the future in ways that enrich and strengthen relationships with the communities that form the living planet.

The symposium Twitter chat will run concurrent with the symposium, giving attendees and others an opportunity to weigh in with their thoughts on the questions the panelists will grapple with. The chat will be moderated by @ESFNewEnv and use the hashtag #talkenvironment.

The symposium begins at 1 p.m. with a welcome by Dr. Valerie Luzadis, chair of the symposium organizing committee and the ESF Department of Environmental Studies.

The keynote address will be given at 1:15 p.m. by Dr. Thomas Lovejoy of George Mason University. Lovejoy is a conservation biologist who coined the term "biological diversity" and he founded the popular public television series, "Nature." Lovejoy serves as Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation. In 2010, he was elected University Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University.

The moderator for the symposium will be Tara Sonenshine, an adjunct faculty member and former distinguished fellow at George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs. Sonenshine has served as under secretary with the Department of State and previously was an editorial producer of ABC News' "Nightline," and an off-air reporter at the Pentagon for ABC's "World News Tonight."

Discussion sessions will run 2 to 5 p.m. The schedule is as follows:

  • "Examining Environmental Values and the Relationships of Humans and Nature" (Emanuel Carter of the ESF Department of Landscape Architecture, Dr. Robin Kimmerer of the ESF Department of Environmental and Forest Biology and Dr. David Newman of the ESF Department of Forest and Natural Resources Management; and Alex Trembath of the Energy and Climate Program at the Breakthrough Institute of California), 2 to 2:55 p.m.
  • "Vision of the Future: What Do We Want and Is It Achievable?" (David Driesen of the Syracuse University College of Law; Dr. Karin Limburg of the ESF Department of Environmental and Forest Biology; Kevin Stack of the ESF Department of Sustainable Construction Management and Engineering and the U.S. Green Building Council; and Lilith Wyatt of A2A, the Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative), 3 to 3:55 p.m.
  • Systems-level Thinking: Bringing Together Values, Visions, Process and Institutions (Mark Lichtenstein of the Syracuse University Center for Sustainable Community Solutions and Environmental Finance Center; Henry Lickers of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Department of the Environment; Dr. Laura Rickard of the ESF Department of Environmental Studies; and Dr. Niki Vermuelen of the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Manchester, U.K.), 4 to 4:55 p.m.

The symposium will conclude with closing commentary by Wheeler, 5 to 5:30 p.m.

Also Thursday, members of the college community will gather at 6:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel to roast Wheeler at an event called "Under the Microscope," in recognition of the new president's background in entomology.

The formal inauguration ceremony will be 10 a.m. to noon Friday, Sept. 12, in Hendricks Chapel on the campus of neighboring Syracuse University. Hundreds of dignitaries, representatives from other academic institutions and ESF faculty, staff and students will convene for the installation. A reception will follow in ESF's Gateway Center.

The final event in the inauguration series will be a 24-hour bioblitz at Onondaga Lake. Hundreds of scientists, students and members of the public will gather along the shores of Onondaga Lake, from 3 p.m. Sept. 12 and to 3 p.m. Sept. 13, to inventory and identify every species of plant and animal that can be found in 24 hours.

Led by ESF faculty members with support from the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps, the bioblitz will provide a snapshot of the species - mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish, insects, fungi, trees, shrubs and other plants - present during that period. Scientists say that snapshot will help them learn more about how to continue restoring this important landscape.

The bioblitz could involve hundreds of participants. It will draw heavily from the faculty, staff and students at ESF and from volunteers who have become environmental stewards through the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps. The Corps, established in 2012, is a growing organization of community volunteers who contribute to restoration projects that create or improve wildlife habitat in the Onondaga Lake watershed. Founding partners of the Corps include Montezuma Audubon Center, Onondaga Audubon Society, Parsons, O'Brien & Gere and Honeywell.

Members of the public will be able to participate in and follow the bioblitz via social media. Anyone wishing to follow bioblitz news as it happens can do so via Twitter, #ESFbioblitz. Official tweets will be via @SUNYESFalumni.

Wheeler joined ESF in January. He came to the college from Arizona State University, where he was vice president and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He previously served as professor at Cornell University, director of the Division of Environmental Biology at the U. S. National Science Foundation, and Keeper of Entomology at the Natural History Museum in London.