As I write this column, temperatures dip below freezing, and ice and snow blanket the campus. Students take refuge in their cozy residence halls with their textbooks and laptops. They fill their dining trays with warming comfort foods like fresh, home-cooked soups. Just as the natural world is gearing up for spring, our students are preparing for the transformation that happens every May on campus, when they will graduate and blossom into professionals in a variety of careers. Our job is to provide them with the best living and learning environment to nurture their development and safeguard their success.
In this issue, you will read on page 26 about our students’ on-campus residential life and the college’s history of creating experiences that support students’ personal, cultural and academic growth. Living on campus is an immersive experience that literally changes the way students act toward each other and think about the world. Students forge lifelong friendships, explore diversity in their day-to-day interactions and—often for the first time in their lives—determine their own priorities and take charge of how they spend their time. They choose whether to study or socialize with friends, to eat fast food or fresh fruit, to hit the gym or take a nap. They lead their lives, but we are here to provide the opportunities that allow them to shape their futures.
For all of our students, we do our best to provide the resources to make informed decisions and healthy choices. This is especially true in our residence and dining halls, where we source nearly one-third of all our food from local farms and businesses and encourage sustainable living. I’m particularly proud to share the story of Tessa Edick ’92 who has created the FarmOn! Foundation to support sustainable farming and eating local (FarmOn! Foundation). I first heard Tessa’s story when she served on a SUNY panel in New York City. Her passion for improving nutrition and building stronger communities grabbed my attention and reinforced my commitment to enacting those principles on our campus.
In addition to our 2007 pledge to reduce our carbon footprint as a charter member of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, our college has instituted numerous programs aimed at educating our students and campus community members about making environmentally conscious and responsible choices. We have created a bike-share program, installed an electric car charging station, supported the development of the Permaculture Living Laboratory, reduced our waste and maintained an award-winning student recycling program, among others.
We want our students to develop good habits that last a lifetime and—like Tessa—become models in leading the way to a more sustainable lifestyle, one of the grand challenges of our times.
Deborah F. Stanely, President