The senior class speaker was the spandex-clad Jacob Salt, an environmental studies major from New York City. Jake challenged his fellow graduates to “catalyze change on a much broader scale” beyond Warren Wilson. He also noted, in reference to the College’s work program, that WWC graduates are “not afraid of bumps and bruises, as Wilson has given us calluses.”
This year’s main address, titled “A Moment in Time,” was delivered by Ray Anderson, founder and chairman of carpet-tile maker Interface Inc. and often called “the greenest chief executive in America.” Anderson took the gathering on what he described as a one-mile walk through time on planet Earth, noting that Homo sapiens appeared on the scene only during the past .7 inch of the mile-long timeline. Even more recently, he pointed out, was humans’ discovery of oil, leading to what he labeled as the “great carbon blowout.” As a result, Anderson said, Earth’s “sixth mass extinction is under way, but this one is different. You might say that we’re tripping on a hair at the finish line and perilously close to ruining the whole walk.”
But Anderson also said that he is hopeful about the future, even if “I cannot say that a new wisdom has permeated our culture,” because change has at least started. “I had not a clue [about the environment] 50 years ago,” he said, referring the late 1950s when he was a young graduate of Georgia Tech. But in 2059, he said, the Class of 2009 can talk about “how you turned it around in your day.”
This year’s Pfaff Cup Award, the College’s highest student honor, went to Lauren Kriel, an English/theatre major from Springfield, Ill. Emily Brigham, a biology/environmental studies major from Charlotte, received the Sullivan Award in recognition of spiritual qualities applied to daily living. Other award recipients included Catherine Reid, faculty member in the Undergraduate Writing Program, for Faculty Teaching Excellence; and retiring staff members Buz and Marilyn Eichman, from Electrical and Student Life respectively, for Staff Teaching Excellence.
Brock to attend Salzburg Seminar
John Brock, Ph.D., chemistry department chair, has received a Mellon Fellowship through the Appalachian College Association to attend the Salzburg Global Seminar Session titled, “Greening the Minds: Universities, Climate Leadership and Sustainable Futures.” Brock says the workshop will help incorporate energy use and climate change into Warren Wilson’s academic curricula. During his earlier career at the Centers for Disease Control, and since his arrival at Warren Wilson eight years ago, Brock has coauthored more than 50 articles. Although he now teaches broadly on environmental issues, his own research has focused on the relationship between environmental toxins and human health.
Brock has devoted much of his career to studying the unhealthy effects of human exposure to phthalates, a series of chemical compounds used widely in cosmetics, children’s toys, and many household products. Thanks in part to the scientific efforts of Brock and his former colleagues at the CDC, there is now a federal law banning certain phthalates in children’s toys.