Patriarch of Environmental Studies:
Professor Emeritus Alan M. Schwartz
The founding of the environmental studies in 1974 marked the beginning
the era in which environmental awareness was part of the St. Lawrence
curriculum. The University hired Alan Schwartz to launch and run the
program, and he continued to lead it until his retirement in 2007. Over
the intervening 33 years he influenced countless students; one of them,
Caleb Montana Spiegel ’96, a graduate student in the department
of fisheries and wildlife at OregonStateUniversity,
sent us this tribute.
The talented faculty and staff of environmental studies have guided numerous
students on paths to productive careers and sustainable lifestyles. Al
Schwartz was inspirational in his teaching, motivational in
his advising, and helpful in bringing the campus to the forefront in its
commitment to the environment. I had the privilege to call Al my
professor, employer, advisor and friend.
Al’s courses regularly transcended
the textbook. During classes
I found myself examining technology at a local solid waste
landfill, filming a wind-power documentary and investigating
the pervasiveness of over-packaging at the local supermarket. Al’s
teaching granted me both academic knowledge and environmental awareness
that continue to influence me daily.
As my work-study employer, Al collaborated
with me to expand resource conservation efforts on campus. With his
sage advice and trust, I developed a project to assess how
much water (and money) the University could save using water-saving technologies. Our
research culminated in a planning report for installing low-flow
showerheads campus-wide--a stellar example of Al’s dedication to
promoting environmental awareness and solving environmental problems.
a senior, I decided on a conservation biology career. Al encouraged
me to pursue this unconventional interest. For several years following
graduation, I traveled to diverse parts of the world conducting
ecological field research. Long distances and lapses in communication
never kept Al from a greeting me as a friend, as if little time had passed. Recently,
his recommendation helped me gain acceptance into a top-ranked
graduate ecology program--Al was still committed to my education.
Al influenced me with his words, deeds and enthusiasm. I congratulate
him on his retirement! He will be missed at SLU, but he’ll
undoubtedly continue to do great things.