This Fall, RCC President & CEO, Dr. Robert K. Musil, returned to live campus visits with a three-day stay at Mount Union University in Alliance, Ohio, his first since COVID restrictions cancelled several planned appearances in Spring, 2020.
Musil was invited to “the Mount” as a CIC Visiting Fellow (formerly Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows) to give the annual Gallaher lecture, teach classes, and meet with Mount Union administration, faculty, and sustainability student leaders. Musil met and talked with Mount Union President Tom Botzman, who had previously hosted Musil at Misericordia University. Botzman has pledged the Mount to reach carbon neutrality by 2048, is committed to a campus Climate Action Plan, and initiatives that include expanding the Mount’s 141-acre Huston-Brumbaugh Nature Center and maintaining a Green Revolving Fund that directs all savings from campus energy reductions into new sustainability efforts.
The Mount Union campus also has ongoing solar initiatives, a new LEEDS-certified building, and commitments to future ones, as well as walkways lined with mature trees that have earned it a listing as a Tree Campus USA. The university is also proud of its Green Raider program that selects and pays a cohort of student environmental leaders each year to carry out sustainability efforts. Musil met with the Green Raiders and their faculty lead, Professor Jamie Greider, to discuss strategies for further initiatives and for engaging Mount Union students in sustainability. He then toured campus sustainability sites, such as solar roofs, with the student leaders of the Green Raiders, and joined a walking tour at the Nature Center with its Director and Professor of Biology Chris Stanton as well as other faculty, staff, and students.
While on campus, Dr. Musil also taught classes including “Food: From Farm to Table,” with Healthy Campus Coordinator, Kelsey Scanlon; “Negotiating Diversity in America,” on anti-racism and “Religious Diversity in America,” on faith-based movements on climate and the environment, with Professor Susan Haddox; “Why Forgive?” on environmental justice and mourning the loss of landscapes and nature with English Professor and Director of Africana Studies, Michelle Collins-Sibley; “Women’s Health,” with Professor of Education Beth Canfield-Simbro; and “Good Planets Are Hard to Find,” on climate and ecosystems with Professor of Biology and Environmental Science, Amy McElhinney.
Professor McElhinney hosted Musil throughout his stay and was responsible for arranging and coordinating his intense schedule of events which culminated with the Mt. Union annual Gallaher lecture in the Giese Center for the Performing Arts. Dr. Musil was introduced by Founding Dean of the College of Health Sciences and Professor of Biology and Biomedical Humanities, Dr. Sandy Mahar, who also hosted a dinner for him with selected faculty and major donors to the university.
In his lecture to a large, masked and socially distanced audience, RCC President Musil spoke on “Rachel Carson and Her Legacy for Today.” Musil focused on Carson’s environmental ethic and values that guide the RCC’s contemporary concerns with climate justice and with finding, mentoring, and supporting the next generation of environmental leaders though the RCC Fellowship Program and summer RCC National Environmental Leadership Institute. Musil quoted from Carson’s only commencement address at Scripps College in 1962 where she spoke to the graduates in terms remarkably prescient for today.
“Your generation must come to terms with the environment. Your generation must face realities instead of taking refuge in ignorance and evasion of truth. Yours is a grave and sobering responsibility, but it is also a shining opportunity.”
Musil urged the current generation to heed Carson’s call, as he had decades ago, to join in the struggle to save the environment, to join the RCC, and to commit themselves to a life of service and social responsibility. After his lecture, Musil met the audience members for a reception and to sign copies of his books, Rachel Carson and Her Sisters and Washington in Spring. With the active support of President Botzman and Dean Madar, along with Professors McElhinney and Collins-Sibley as key faculty contacts, and around 100 new activist RCC members, the University of Mount Union became the 58th college to join the RCC Campus Network and the first since campus COVID shutdowns in Spring, 2020.