The interim president of William and Mary challenged the College’s new students on Friday to help the school set the bar in environmental sustainability efforts.
“My hope and my expectation is that William and Mary will quickly become a model for other schools, showing that real sustainability progress can be made even by colleges and universities such as William and Mary that are not awash in dollars to throw at the effort,” said W. Taylor Reveley III. “I believe we’re up to the challenge, and now is a good time – at the threshold of the new year – to take the challenge seriously, while we’re all fresh for the race.”
Reveley’s thoughts on sustainability were delivered as part of the College’s annual Opening Convocation Ceremony. The ceremony, which took place in the Wren Courtyard, officially opened the new academic year and was attended by more than 2,000 students, faculty, staff and community members.
Reveley told the crowd that the College was already on the "right track" in terms of "environmentally friendly patterns of behavior,"
citing the annual $30 "green fee" that students overwhelmingly voted to impose on themselves in order to support sustainability projects and research. The administration endorsed the fee and it was approved last spring by the William and Mary Board of Visitors. Reveley said the funds, which total $200,000 annually, would be administered by a "sustainability committee" and, along with other resources, would "make a material difference for the better here." The College adopted a sustainability statement last spring. The committee will be made up of faculty, students and staff.
“Galvanized by the green fee, let’s see how much progress we can make right here during 2008-2009,” said Reveley. “Let’s make sustainability a vibrant presence at William and Mary.
Earlier in the ceremony, the College’s newest students – including freshmen, graduate and transfer students -- received another challenge from the event’s keynote speaker, JP Morgan executive and College alumna Rhian Horgan (’99). Horgan’s message and presence at the ceremony was especially significant since this academic year marks 90 years since the College first opened its doors to women.
“Today the College opens its doors to you, granting you the opportunity to pursue any path you choose,” said Horgan. “I encouraged and challenge you during your time at the College and later as alumni to not only walk through the doors which will be opened for you, but also to then open doors wherever possible.”
During Horgan’s remarks, she noted the culture of civic engagement that has “emerged as a vibrant force at William and Mary.” Two William and Mary people were honored during the ceremony for being part of that culture with the 2008 President’s Awards for Service to the Community. Dennis Taylor, a professor of biological sciences at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, received the faculty/staff award, and Meghan Dunne (’09) received the student award.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the College’s new students walked through the Wren Building and were greeted on the other side by a crowd of upperclassmen, faculty and staff who cheered and applauded every new student until they all came through.
“I feel like I belong here now,” said Jasmine Curry, a freshman who commutes to the College from Newport News.
“It felt really good to have everyone clapping and applauding for us,” she said. “It made me feel very welcomed and wanted, like they are happy to have us here.”
She added, “I guess I’ll be back in 2012 to walk the opposite way!”