On November 7–8, Colgate became the first private institution to host the annual State of New York Sustainability Conference. More than 300 sustainability officers, professors, industry experts, and students from across New York State came to campus to discuss climate action, renewable energy, waste reduction, and fostering sustainable behavior.

The conference was organized by the New York Coalition for Sustainability in Higher Education (NYCSHE) in conjunction with Colgate’s Office of Sustainability. It featured two keynote speakers: SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson and Robin Kimmerer, professor and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at SUNY ESF.

The overall theme of the conference was the integration of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals into New York State campuses. Various sessions, such as “Energy Master Planning to Meet Campus Energy and Sustainability Goals” and “Sustainable Land Stewardship on Campus and Beyond,” discussed both climate change and specific action plans to deal with climatological issues.

“This is an issue that demands immense focus,” said Johnson in her keynote speech on November 7. “When people say they’re worried about saving the planet, that’s great, but I’m not worried about saving the planet. I’m worried about whether civilization is going to be here for another hundred years.”

In 2019, Colgate will become the first institution of higher education in New York State to achieve carbon neutrality. “What a wonderful time for this to happen as we celebrate our Bicentennial,” said Tracey Hucks ’87, MA ’90, provost and dean of the faculty, as she introduced Johnson to the keynote audience. “This is a gift to ourselves and to our world.”

John Pumilio, director of sustainability, and Pamela Gramlich, program coordinator, stressed that Colgate’s success in hosting the conference — and the University’s dedication to sustainable efforts — has largely been due to unified, multilateral support from the entire student and faculty body. “Hosting the conference was a team effort,” said Gramlich. “We couldn’t have done it without the whole school’s support.”

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