Dear ESF Alumni, Heartfelt wishes for a joyous holiday season! I am looking forward to hosting my first campus holiday party in January at the college residence, and to my first white Christmas in several years. A saguaro wrapped with strands of tree lights just doesn’t quite do it for anyone who has spent winters in Central New York. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
We are making progress with our strategic planning, focusing at the moment on fleshing out two particularly challenging areas. First is taking a hard look at the ESF undergraduate student experience and asking how we can make it a uniquely excellent one. Second: What is the right combination of courses and extra-curricular experiences to convey the knowledge, skills, literacies, and competencies we would wish for the brightest of the next generation as they tackle a growing array of environmental challenges?
Secondly: In the research arena, we are currently taking inventory of all the things we do well at ESF, from fundamental research and scholarship to management and conservation of resources, to work with new technologies, and leading society as it adapts to rapidly changing circumstances. While we can, and will, continue those things, we must also seize the opportunities that arise from strategic investments in selected areas where ESF can make a transformational difference. This is not an easy process, but it is both exciting and rewarding and will help put us on a successful path. I welcome you to visit our strategic planning web site (www.esf.edu/strategicplan) and share your ideas.
We are making plans for two new buildings: an Academic Research Building that will feature state-of-the-art laboratory facilities on our main campus, and a Water Research and Education facility located in the inner harbor in Syracuse where we will continue our research on Onondaga Lake. We have just launched the ESF Center for a New American Environmentalism that will explore ways of re-imagining environmentalism to embrace the diversity of views and beliefs in our society, from the political to the religious, and engage everyone in the pursuit of solutions. The urgency and importance of the environmental questions facing us are simply too great to tolerate the current political impasse that is hindering progress.
As I approach the end of my first year at ESF I have much to be thankful for. The quality and diversity of our students, our outstanding faculty and staff, the beauty of this part of the continent, supportive and engaged alumni and trustees, and the opportunity to lead this most special institution into an exciting future brimming with possibilities. If you have not visited campus lately, please come see us. And if you have, come again soon. As I look back, many wonderful experiences have taken place during these ten months, but none eclipse the fantastic alumni I have met at gatherings on campus and across the country. Best wishes for the coming New Year.
Dr. Wheeler writes the Presidential Perspective for the monthly Alumni E-News newsletter.