By: Lindsey BrownRinging in the 50th anniversary of the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability, alumni, faculty and students alike celebrated this milestone through tours of IES facilities, keynote speakers such as EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and multiple alumni receptions. I had the privilege of attending the IES 50th Anniversary Alumni Banquet in the Fritz Pavilion located in the Armstrong Student Center on Saturday, Sept. 14. The evening began with alumni mingling in the pavilion as current IES students presented poster projects of research they conducted through the Institute. Both undergraduate and graduate students shared posters highlighting the research they conducted in semesters past. From the analysis of introducing microbes into agricultural production to discussing solutions to unsafe wells in Zambian cities, students shared their new ideas with IES alumni, creating unique discussions and reflecting on problem-solving. The alumni present brought new and interesting ideas to further student research as well. Many alumni present gave remarks before dinner, including President Greg Crawford and Dean of the College of Arts and Science, Dr. Chris Makaroff. President Crawford described the IES 50th anniversary as a “milestone to celebrate,” while Miami University has “new steps to [take]” in order to continue our path to a more sustainable campus. An article published in April of this year in another campus publication, The Miami Student, described the Miami University Sustainability Committee’s deliberation and hesitation to sign the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitment. This program challenges universities to obtain net-zero carbon emissions in the near future. Miami has yet to agree to this program and sign this document, a move that would allow Miami to formally join more than 400 other universities in the United States in efforts to combat climate change. A petition for Miami to join the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitment was created in April to encourage Miami’s commitment to the initiative. The petition can be signed here. Other notable speeches were given by former IES directors, including a speech from Graham Mitchel on behalf of former directors Chris Barthel, Mark Boardman, Doug Meikle, Bill Renwick, Tom Crist and present IES director, Dr. Jonathan Levy. Pat Willeke spoke in place of her late husband Gene Willeke, who served as IES director from 1977 to 2004 and created a lasting legacy here at Miami University. Willeke received the Benjamin Harrison Medal in 1999 to honor his contributions in teaching, research and service for Miami University and its students. His legacy lives on through the Willeke Lecture Series, which invites distinguished speakers in the field of environmental science to Miami University.Many people worked together to create such a special evening, including efforts from IES students and faculty, current Master of Environmental Science, or M.En., candidates and faculty, the Alumni Association and the Alumni Planning Committee. All of the delicious food served at the banquet was proudly grown through the Institute for Food on Miami’s sustainable farms. Additionally, no paper or plastics were used to serve the dishes Saturday evening, and the few leftovers that remained were all composted. In a night of words from past IES directors and discussions with present day IES students, returning alumni shared a wonderful evening remembering the last 50 years of IES and embracing all that is to come in IES’s bright future.
Photo courtesy of Lindsey Brown