A Capital Idea
Bucknell parents invest in the academic experience.
By Julie Dreese
When Hilary P’14 and Ted Giuliano P’14 were touring college campuses with their daughter in 2010, the last thing they expected was to stumble across an investment opportunity. But one class with a particularly enthusiastic faculty member had them ready to take a leap of faith in a new venture — even before their daughter announced Bucknell as her ﬁnal choice. Associate Professor of Management Jamie Hendry’s passion for teaching inspired the Giulianos to make a gift to the University.
“We sat in on a management course taught by Jamie because we were trying to get an idea of what type of classes Bucknell offers,” says Hilary. “She came across as such a dynamo that we decided that we wanted to fund something that she was passionate about.” The Giulianos approached the University development office and learned that Hendry’s main focus is sustainability as a socio-economic concept.
“We heard her speak and liked the concept of sustainability. We don’t know much about it — we’re finance people — but we’re always tinkering around to look into new things and education,” says Ted. “We were intrigued. Professor Hendry was very passionate, and we thought of creating this fund.”
This summer, through the School of Management, the Giulianos launched the Jamie Hendry Sustainability Studies Development Fund, which supports faculty research in sustainability across a variety of disciplines, a subject that excites Hendry.
“People living in poverty don’t typically have the luxury of considering their own long-term interests — they are struggling to survive one day at a time — to say nothing of the long-term interests of the planet that serves as our only home,” says Hendry. “We must address issues of social and economic justice in order to create situations in which people are able to behave responsibly toward nonhuman aspects of the environment.”
Hendry teaches students that economics, social issues and the environment all factor into a society’s sustainability. Her classes study different kinds of organizations, including nonprofits, governments and businesses, to see how they either facilitate sustainable societies or hinder them.
Hendry notes that current students are concerned about sustainability issues. “When I started teaching at Bucknell in 2000, my students had no idea why we were talking about this stuff,” she says. “Now, they come into class understanding that this is absolutely vital. They know we cannot survive if we don’t start working for greater justice for people in society and toward long-term environmental goals.”
Although sustainability as a socio-economic concept was new to the Giulianos, their interest in the topic, combined with their confidence in the University, convinced them to “invest.”
“We would call this a speculation,” says Ted, who is managing director at Neuberger Berman, a global asset-management firm. “We liked the people [at Bucknell] but didn’t know much about the subject. So we made a bet on ‘management.’ ”
The fund presents a great opportunity for Bucknell, according to Provost Mick Smyer. “The Giulianos’ generosity will have a far-reaching impact as students benefit from integrating faculty scholarship and sustainability with student learning,” he says. “This kind of funding will help advance our campus-wide focus on how we can create a better future, both on campus and beyond.”
The University invited faculty members to compete for funding to develop new curricula or conduct interdisciplinary research. The three professors who were awarded grants pursued diverse sustainability research projects over the summer.
Karen Castle, associate professor of chemistry, primarily teaches chemistry and spectroscopy courses. She used the funds to design new laboratory experiments to study energy transfer in the earth’s atmosphere, namely the cooling effect caused by the collision of oxygen atoms and ozone molecules in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT).
“Many researchers believe that closely monitoring this region might be the most sensitive way to track global, long-term variations in climate,” says Castle, who included three students — two undergraduates and one master’s candidate — on her research team. Her goal is to understand energy-transfer mechanisms involving the ozone within the MLT.
Assistant Professor of Sociology Beth Duckles used her funding to kickstart a new research project: an ethnographic study of the U.S. Green Building Council, the organization that creates the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) building rating system.
“My aim is to understand how this organization is able to walk the line between the pressures of the marketplace and environmental ideals through the creation of an evolving environmental performance metric,” Duckles says. She plans to incorporate the results of her summer research and her pre-tenure leave in the fall 2011 semester to create an advanced seminar on environmentalism and the social world. The Hendry Fund will not only allow her to collect the data, it will also enable her to bring students into the analysis process to give them hands-on experience in relevant social science research.
Michelle Oswald, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, teaches transportation and engineering planning courses. Her award helped her develop a new course that focuses on educating students about sustainability in transportation.
“Transportation as a sector has been considered ‘unsustainable’ as a result of its many direct impacts on the environment, economy and society,” Oswald says. “However, as interest in sustainable practices throughout the engineering sector continues to rise, there is increased pressure to adopt more equitable, environmentally friendly and affordable options.”
Oswald points out that transportation affects everyone, regardless of major, career or geographical location. Her new course, Sustainable Transportation Planning, will be offered this spring and will explore automobile dependence, freight transport, climate change and urban sprawl. Class projects will tie in with various campus initiatives such as pedestrian accessibility, parking, Bucknell’s bike-share program and the feasibility of alternative fuels for University vehicles.
When faculty and students work together to examine complex issues from different perspectives, they help create a different kind of sustainability for the campus, notes Smyer. “Bucknell’s students, faculty and staff are concerned about sustainability,” he says. “The Hendry Fund helps assure that we can maintain this focus in teaching and in research, giving our students knowledge and skills they can use today and in the future.”
The Giulianos hope that their gift helps bring even more attention to sustainability at the University.
“We think that other people could potentially buy into the concept,” says Hilary. “We’re doing the venture capital, and we’re hoping that other people will follow.”
For more information on sustainability across Bucknell’s campus, go to www.bucknell.edu/green.
Posted: January 19, 2012