The Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith recognized retired State Sen. Michael F. Nozzolio L.H.D. ’07 and President Mark D. Gearan L.H.D. ’17 for their innovative leadership in establishing the environmental research and education center 15 years ago. Nearly 70 people attended the event on the shore of Seneca Lake on June 14.
“Hobart and William Smith have a very rich history of professors, students and staff conducting research on these lakes. None of this would have been possible without the vision and support of President Gearan and Senator Nozzolio,” said Lisa Cleckner, director of the Institute. “As we look ahead, the groundwork that was established by a fantastic team has enabled investment back into our campus and our community.”
Professor of Environmental Studies John Halfman echoed Cleckner’s praise, detailing the partnership of Nozzolio and Gearan, and their dedication to the faculty of the Institute.
In 2002, Gearan, Halfman and other HWS faculty members collaborated on a proposal for the Finger Lakes Institute before presenting the idea to state leaders. “This effort 15 years ago would not have happened but for $1 million that Sen. Nozzolio secured from New York State,” said Gearan, detailing the retired state senator’s continued investment in the Institute’s success over the next several years. “I am honored to be a part of this, but the honor should most certainly go to Sen. Nozzolio. We are in the presence of someone who really took the time, the effort and the care to not only do his job, but stay in the game in important ways.”
Gearan praised Nozzolio for his enduring dedication to the health and well-being of the Finger Lakes, its people and economy, adding that through the years the senator continued to bridge an ongoing and important connection with the Institute, often checking in with faculty, staff and leadership. Since being established, the Finger Lakes Institute has received more than $12 million in federal, state, foundation and private funding to conduct aquatic research and educate the next generation of environmental scientists. The Institute’s launch in 2004 marked the beginning of key research in aquatic ecology, water quality and meteorological influences throughout the region’s 11 lakes.
“I cannot be more grateful to Mark for his leadership, but beyond his work on behalf of Hobart and William Smith, I am grateful for his work on behalf of the community. Mark and Mary [Herlihy Gearan] have given so much to our region,” Nozzolio said. “You brought the Ivory Tower down to the docks of the Finger Lakes and that is so important to our future, not just for the Colleges but for all of the communities in this beautiful watershed. The Finger Lakes Institute is a foundation and others may build upon that foundation to preserve, protect and promote our beautiful Finger Lakes.”
The Institute recently received funding to update laboratories and create additional teaching spaces for K-12 grade students. Other current initiatives include an Environmental Protection Agency funded project led by Cleckner and Hilary Mosher from the Finger Lakes Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management. The project aims to remove the invasive water chestnut species from the region.
“What is really distinctive about the Finger Lakes Institute is the nature of the research,” Gearan said. “Our partners are the community. That doesn’t happen anywhere. It is a testament to everyone here: to our neighbors, farmers, our researchers and colleagues that make this such a pride point for Hobart and William Smith.”
The reception was hosted by HWS Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations and Legislative Affairs Jerry Buckley P’15 and Anne Buckley P’15.