Obama’s Energy Czar:Commencement Speaker – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Obama’s Energy Czar:Commencement Speaker

In recognition of the efforts of the Classes of 2009 in ushering in a new era of environmental responsibility at Hobart and William Smith, it was recently announced that Carol M. Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change in the Obama Administration, will deliver the Commencement Address Sunday, May 17 on the Hobart Quad.

Recently referred to as the energy “czarina” by TIME magazine, Browner is the nation’s first Energy Coordinator and is responsible for overseeing and integrating all of the various U.S. government energy and climate committees and organizations. She works with the U.S. Secretaries of Energy and Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency administrator and is a close advisor to President Obama. A member of the Transition Board for President-elect Obama, she was previously the longest serving administrator in the history of the Environmental Protection Agency.

At the press conference announcing her nomination, President Obama said: “Carol Browner understands that our efforts to create jobs, achieve energy security and combat climate change demand integration among different agencies, cooperation between federal, state and local governments and partnership with the private sector.”

“Carol Browner’s career is one that has been devoted to the environment and to changing policies, laws and cultural attitudes that impact the environment,” said President Mark D. Gearan. “The Classes of 2009 will enter a world where climate and environmental issues will have an increasingly important role across nearly every occupational and academic field. She is uniquely qualified to speak to our graduates about their roles, responsibilities and opportunities.” 

Members of the Classes of 2009 have conducted valuable research, offered long-ranging solutions for energy savings, and reduced carbon emissions on campus. They were active participants in President Gearan’s signing of the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment and in upholding its goals. A number of this year’s graduates will go on to graduate school or careers in environmentally-focused areas of law, science, public policy and government. 

After leaving the EPA in 2000, Browner served as a principal of the Albright Group, working in the areas of environmental protection, climate change and energy conservation and security. She previously served as secretary of environmental regulation in Florida, legislative director for Senator Al Gore of Tennessee, and a chief legislative aide for environmental issues to Senator Lawton Chiles of Florida.

Browner is well-known for settling a lawsuit that the government brought against Florida for environmental damage done to Everglades National Park and launching the largest ecological restoration project ever attempted in the U.S., to purify and restore the natural flow of water to the Everglades.

She holds a B.A. in English and a J.D. from the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Commencement 2009 marks the 98th Commencement for William Smith College and the 184th for Hobart College. Approximately 410 undergraduates and nine MAT students will graduate from the two Colleges in the ceremony that will begin at 10 a.m.