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ESF President Joanie Mahoney and Onondaga County Executive J. Ryan McMahon

Onondaga County Announces Opening of Summer Season with ESF at the St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater

Syracuse, NY, May 6, 2023 - Onondaga County Executive J. Ryan McMahon and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) President Joanie Mahoney, today announced the opening of the 2023 summer season at the St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview, which kicks off with ESF’s Spring Commencement at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 13.

ESF celebrates the conferring of degrees to 350 undergraduate students and 45 master’s and Ph.D. recipients. ESF graduates will hear from Commencement speaker Anne Therese Gennari, author of “The Climate Optimist Handbook: How to Shift the Narrative on Climate Change and Find the Courage to Choose Change.”  

Before Mahoney was appointed ESF’s first woman president in 2020, she served 11 years as Onondaga County Executive. Under her leadership, Onondaga County met the goals and objectives of a years-long consent agreement with the federal government to assist with the cleanup and reduction of pollution in Onondaga Lake. 

Having successfully met repeated cleanup milestones during her tenure as county executive, in 2014, Mahoney proposed building an amphitheater on the shores of Onondaga Lake to celebrate the clean-up of the lake and reopen the waterfront of the once-vibrant natural resource to the residents of Onondaga County. Under the leadership of then-Legislature Chairman J. Ryan McMahon, the county, working with the Honeywell Corporation, approved plans to construct the facility, and a construction bid was let in the fall of 2014.  

Construction began in March 2015 and was completed in September of that year when the facility hosted its first concert. Since opening, the Amphitheater has hosted dozens of concerts, graduations, family movie nights, and Symphoria, bringing tens of thousands of residents and visitors to Onondaga Lake.

“Holding our commencement on the shore of Onondaga Lake is the perfect setting for ESF and our graduating scholars. Many of our faculty, alums, and even some of our graduating students this year, have been deeply involved in the clean-up and restoration of Onondaga Lake. I am so proud of this tremendous community asset and there is no better place for us to recognize the tremendous work of our graduates. I am very grateful to Ryan and his team for working with us to make this happen,” said ESF President Joanie Mahoney.  

“We’re ecstatic to have ESF at the Amp to celebrate the class of 2023, and we hope it leads to more public events at this beautiful venue,” said McMahon.

ESF and Onondaga County are working to enter into a long-term agreement to host their annual spring Commencement at the Amphitheater through 2028. 


The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is dedicated to the study of the environment, developing renewable technologies, and building a sustainable and resilient future through design, policy, and management of the environment and natural resources. Members of the College community share a passion for protecting the health of the planet and a deep commitment to the rigorous application of science to improve the way humans interact with the world. The College offers academic programs ranging from the associate of applied science to the Doctor of Philosophy. ESF students live, study and do research on the main campus in Syracuse, N.Y., and on 25,000 acres of field stations in a variety of ecosystems across the state.