HWS Fights Climate Change

HWS President, Mark Gearan, helps lead students to living a more "eco-friendly" lifestyle

GENEVA, NY- Ten years ago on the campus of HWS, coffee was served in Styrofoam cups, light bulbs were incandescent, and being “green” meant a trip to HUBBS.


President Mark Gearan speaks to the student body.

That all began to change in 2007 when Mark Gearan, President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, signed the American College University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, promising to lessen the negative environmental impact at HWS. With that one signature, HWS joined the ranks of colleges and universities throughout the US committed to climate change, or as it is more commonly known, “being green.”

And it’s paying off.

“Since I signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2007, I have witnessed a transformation on campus, one that builds upon the significant work of past decades to ensure that the Colleges continue to do everything possible to mitigate our impact on the environment,” Gearan says.

Not only on the HWS campus, but climate-change is now being addressed world-wide.

At the most recent United Nations summit, the topic discussed was climate change, and how to help solve the problem. President of the general assembly, Sam Kahamba Kutesa stated in his opening remarks, “Climate change is an urgent challenge and potentially irreversible threat.” He went on to state that the end goal is, “To propel the world to a cleaner, greener economy.”

While the summit was viewed as an internationally supported stride towards climate change, the regulations created there will not take effect until Dec 2015. Unfortunately, this might not be soon enough.

At HWS, the plan is to speed up these changes and help at a local level, while inspiring others to do the same.

“Overall, our goal as an institution is to spread awareness of how small actions around campus can make a huge difference towards a more sustainable lifestyle.” Emily Blanchard, and eco representative on campus says.

With that being said, many of the recommendations from the summit are already in place at the colleges.

climate change

HWS students participate in the People’s Change March in NYC.

“The Colleges employ energy efficiency technologies, including LED lighting and high-efficiency boilers.” Gearan cites. “Additionally, we compost nearly 100 percent of pre-consumer and post-consumer food waste from our dining facilities.” Gearan also says that “Hobart and William Smith were the first liberal arts college in New York State to be powered entirely by wind.”

With all these changes being enacted, the colleges hope that students will be among the first to create the positive change the world needs.

Phoebe Moore is a Junior at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY. Studying Writing and Rhetoric, she hopes to pursue some sort of writing career after graduation. Outside of the classroom she is a member of the cross country team and athletic leadership core.