Faculty Remarks, Associate Professor of Economics Thomas E. Drennen
August 29, 2007

Global Warming?  Can’t you feel it?  (I’m lucky it’s not a cold and rainy day as President Gearan announces his intent to sign the President’s Climate Commitment!)

It is an honor to represent the faculty of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in welcoming you all here today and to kick off the beginning of this new academic year.  A special welcome to Congressman Lewis, President Gearan, Chair and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, new faculty members, returning students and especially the entering class of 2011!  Welcome!

I begin with an e-mail received last weekend:

Drennen, Can we chat on Monday sometime to discuss a project to save the world?

Enjoy the last few days of summer.

I like it.  Simple, straight to the point, and most intriguing. 

I thank President Gearan for announcing his intent to sign the President’s Climate Commitment.  In doing so, the Colleges join a list of colleges and universities leading the way on reducing the threats of climate change.  It’s not going to be easy, but it is the right thing to do – to begin down the path of making this campus more environmentally friendly. 

But like so many of the awesome things that happen on this campus, it began with students and would not have happened without the hard work of a couple students.

As an independent studies project last term, Clancy Brown began developing a carbon inventory for the colleges.  This inventory includes emissions from our electricity usage, our natural gas consumption, and even colleges-sponsored faculty travel.  As she developed the inventory, she came across the President’s commitment and made it her goal to convince the President to take this step announced today.

Together with Christine Moskell, Clancy prepared a briefing book for the President and met with him to discuss why this was the right thing to do.  And they asked that he aim for announcing his intent to sign at this Convocation. 

Moving forward on this commitment will not be easy, but I look forward to working with students, faculty, staff, and the Board to honor the commitment President Gearan has made today.

This is just one of the many exciting student-led projects underway on this campus.  I just want to highlight a few:

  1. At a secret, undisclosed location here on campus, two students will convert a 1990 Ford Ranger to an all electric vehicle.  By the end of the term, I hope you’ll see this vehicle driving around campus.  (No pressure here Greg and Jake).
  2. Two other students, Mark Vogelgesang and John Catillaz) have begun projects that will make this campus greener, including: 
  3. Implementing a campus wide recycling program,
  4. Reintroducing composting on campus so that scraps from Saga and theme and Greek houses can be composted and used on our gardens,
  5. Working with Admissions to create a couple “Green student dorm rooms” that will demonstrate what it takes to be green.

These are just a few of the exciting projects students are tackling on this campus. 

So back to that e-mail I received over the weekend. 

Drennen, Can we chat on Monday sometime to discuss a project to save the world?

My challenge to each of you today is that you make it a goal while you’re here to challenge yourself and to challenge a professor.  Imagine if each of you set up a chat with a professor to discuss a project to save the world. 

Now that would be something.

Enjoy the last few days of summer.