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e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Dr. Lemir Teron to Be Honored as Unsung Hero


Dr. Lemir Teron, assistant professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is among the five honorees for the 2020 Unsung Heroes Award during the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Jan. 26.

Teron's field of study lies at the intersection of environmental science, social justice and ecological sustainability. As an environmental justice professor in the Department of Environmental Studies, Teron is a celebrated teacher whose outspoken support for people and communities of color has extended far beyond the boundaries of the ESF campus.

Teron's research, classroom teaching and community engagement focuses on the study of environmental justice, which is the movement to end systemic environmental harm acted upon marginalized populations. Teron brings the ideas of environmental sustainability and social justice together.

"He empowers students in his classroom and constantly challenges their line of thinking from the moment they enter the environmental studies program," said ESF student Emily Li '22. "People are humbled yet energized in his class, feeling a call to action after every lecture."

Teron is a popular professor at ESF for his engaging classes and extensive mentorship. In class, he offers opportunities for students to work directly with community organizations, says Li. Teron also brings students to local sites that are part of his research, including the I-81 interstate highway.

Students of color across campus know Teron as a generous mentor, says Laura Crandall, director of student involvement and leadership. Teron also actively involves students of color in his research group to ensure they are career-ready. For his selfless commitment to students, Teron was awarded the 2019 Distinguished Faculty Member for Teaching Excellence Award from ESF's Undergraduate Student Association.

Teron's research extends into the Syracuse community. He has shared his knowledge of environmental science as an advisor to the New York Civil Liberties Union's I-81 campaign. His recognition as an expert in the field is also evident in his position on the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council's Environmental Justice task force.

As King fought against systemic racism, Teron is working to ensure the next iteration of the interstate highway is developed with Syracuse's Black communities at the forefront of decision making. He brings the same care and passion for justice to his teaching.

"Dr. Teron is a faculty member that helps underrepresented students feel at home and valued at ESF," says Kailyn Wright, director of the Educational Opportunity Program. "When students speak of him, their words are filled with gratitude."

The awards are bestowed annually on people who, in the spirit of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "beloved community," have made a positive difference in the lives of others, but who are not widely recognized for their efforts. The categories include community member, student, faculty and staff.

This year's recipients will be honored at the 35th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, to be held Jan. 26, at 5 p.m. in the Dome. The featured speaker is civil rights leader, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the spiritual home of Dr. King. Warnock will speak to his connection with Dr. King under the theme, "A Living Legacy." The celebration is the largest of its kind on a college campus and features performances, dinner and the presentation of the Unsung Hero Awards.

Tickets for the dinner and program and program only may be purchased at https://mlk.syr.edu/buy-tickets/, in person at the Dome Box Office located in the Ensley Athletic Center at 1315 E. Colvin St., and by phone (888-DOME-TIX or 315.443.2121, option "four").

From Syracuse University News