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Community Stewards to Receive ESF’s Feinstone Award

George W. Curry, William H. McAvoy committed to building a vibrant community
9/24/2018

The College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) will honor community stewards by presenting the 2018 Sol Feinstone Environmental Award to George W. Curry and William H. McAvoy.

Curry and McAvoy have made significant contributions to ESF's mission and have dedicated their personal and professional lives to building a vibrant community in Central New York.

As a licensed landscape architect and a specialist in urban design and historic preservation, Curry has spent more than 40 years teaching and inspiring landscape architecture students at ESF.

Curry, a Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus, became interested in urban design while a graduate student at the University of Illinois in the 1960s. It was there he first delved into historic preservation, developing a resource-based plan - building on what already existed in an area - to rehabilitate a neighborhood.

Curry has been instrumental in revitalizing a number of neighborhoods, including Syracuse's Armory Square. In 1982, he partnered with local real estate developer Bob Doucette on the project. They started with the Labor Temple Building to demonstrate that the concept of combining retail, office and residential space could work in Syracuse. From that building, a thriving downtown district has emerged. Today, Armory Square is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Curry has played a vital planning and design role in revitalizing other areas in Syracuse. Working with the New York State Historic Preservation Office, he has played a leading role in developing the city of Syracuse Comprehensive Plan.

Curry brought the same drive that restored a downtown neighborhood to the classroom. During his tenure at ESF, he participated in the education of thousands of undergraduate and graduate students. His students addressed real problems and helped design solutions for them. He developed an extensive network of contacts with a variety of government agencies, non-profit organizations and the private sector which provided ESF students with opportunities for office visits and professional interactions, internships and, often, jobs.

His involvement in cultural landscape preservation research with the National Park Service and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has been an important professional focus for the last 20 years.

Curry has worked on historic research studies for numerous historic sites including the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York; Gettysburg National Cemetery and Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; and Muir Woods National Monument in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in Sausalito, California.

William "Bill" H. McAvoy believes the best way to bring others to community service is to lead by example. He has been setting that example for years, lending his time and talent to organizations throughout the Syracuse area.

Along with his service as an ex-officio member and past president of the ESF College Foundation Board of Directors, McAvoy served on several boards and committees, including the Visiting Nurse Association of Central New York, Christian Brothers Academy, The Boys & Girls Club of Syracuse, the Syracuse Roman Catholic Diocese Finance Council, Immaculate Conception Church Finance Committee and the Onondaga Golf and Country Club.

McAvoy hold Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of Tulsa and took graduate courses in business, accounting and finance at SUNY Binghamton. Following three years in the U.S. Army, he began his career as a staff accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers (then Coopers & Lybrand) in 1971. His career spans 35 years in public accounting and management consulting, with a specialization in auditing and financial forecasting, financial systems development and health care accounting. At PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), he became a certified public accountant in 1973 and was admitted as a partner in 1986. He was managing partner of Upstate New York Healthcare Consulting Practice from 1990-2000. He retired in 2005.

Throughout his career, McAvoy saw a connection between work and community. He encouraged others to become involved in the community and to find organizations that do positive things that add to the quality of life in the community.

"As you get involved, you bring colleagues in to serve on those boards along with you or once you have fulfilled your commitment," he said. "You also make sure the colleague knows that serving the community is an essential part of their professional development."

His involvement with the ESF College Foundation Board of Directors came as he was nearing retirement and felt he had the time to make a solid contribution to the group. It also marked the first time he had been involved with a board related to education, which he found appealing. Education, he said, is one of the pillars to building a vibrant community. He believes there are other factors essential to a resilient community, including a strong outreach and support system for underprivileged people, community involvement to assist the underserved population, strong companies that provide good jobs and good healthcare.

"That's what makes the community better. You have to be out there helping those organizations who bring good things to the community be better," he said.

The annual Feinstone Awards dinner will take place Oct. 11 at the Gateway Center on the ESF campus, Syracuse.

The Feinstone program has made more than 100 awards, honoring individuals from across the United States for their significant contributions to protecting the environment, promoting the wise use and management of our country's natural resources, and promoting the spirit of volunteerism.

Sol Feinstone, a widely known historian and author who was a graduate of ESF, established the Feinstone awards program in 1976. His goal was to reward people and organizations that exemplified his belief that the best insurance for a free society lay in people's desire and ability to do voluntarily the things that need to be done for the good of all.