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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.

As 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.

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