complete issue, click: INSIDE
MAY 2007 (PDF)
from the May 2007 Issue
from 2420 Nicolet
energy, vision, we're still 'green' at UW-Green
It’s a little like “bringing coal to
Newcastle,” but a cleaner, more environmentally
friendly metaphor would be “like putting the
‘green’ in UW-Green Bay.”
I’m referring to my trip next month to a national
environmental summit where I’ll join hundreds
of my counterparts in signing on to an initiative
called the American College and University Presidents
Climate Commitment. A major development will be our
pledge to target and ultimately neutralize greenhouse
gas emissions on each of our campuses.
I’m excited about that initiative, but it’s
the coalition’s second pledge — to educate
the next generation of leaders in the areas of energy
conservation and environmental awareness —
that strikes me as “old hat,” a bit redundant
for us here in Green Bay. We’re already there.
Always have been.
At the time of the first Earth Day in 1970 I wasn’t
around Green Bay. Home in California and completing
my doctoral work in political science, however, I
certainly heard of this pioneering campus riding
the crest of the environmental movement. “Eco
U,” the magazines called it, or “Survival
Years later, I would develop a much deeper appreciation
of just how far-reaching were the innovations of
UWGB and founding chancellor Edward Weidner. The
“Man and his Environment” theme grabbed
the headlines but there were other, even more significant
ways, UWGB challenged the higher education orthodoxy
of the day.
By integrating disciplines into interdisciplinary
“concentrations,” by offering liberal-education
seminars and the January special-studies period,
by emphasizing problem-solving and “communiversity,”
the University helped re-shape the status quo. It’s
interesting to note that many of the 1970s-era alumni
interviewed for this magazine cite these innovations
as being influential to this day.
In a sense, we’ve come full circle. Recycling,
once radical, is now mainstream, as are other environmental
advances. As new concerns emerge, I tend to agree
with UW-Green Bay alumnus and Clemson Prof. David
Freedman, who sees the enthusiasm of his generation
recycled in today’s activists rallying for
awareness of “carbon footprints.”
He and the other 1970s grads can be proud. With an
energy-conservation showplace in Mary Ann Cofrin
Hall; student support for sustainability, green energy
and our new Master Plan; a directive from the governor
that UW-Green Bay will pilot new strategies for achieving
energy independence… their University remains
at the forefront.
Thank you all for your support of this University,
its time-honored commitment to sustainability and
environmental awareness, and its focus on connecting
learning to life. Enjoy this Inside.
U’ a magnet for activists, big ideas
It was an electric place at the dawn of the 1970s.
A story in Newsweek magazine labeled the school
“Ecology U.” The New York Times,
Harper’s magazine and others showered
praise on the concept of America’s first environmental
university, a place where every day would be Earth
“It was amazing,” recalls David L. Freedman,
today a distinguished environmental professor at
Clemson University, then a teen from Massachusetts
who wanted to make a difference. “Students
from all over the country were coming to the University
of Wisconsin-Green Bay. It was like an elite private
In truth, UW-Green Bay’s focus on pollution
was but a single element of its broader “Man
and the Environment” theme, but the first Earth
Day in April 1970 symbolized the passion of the times.
from: Potomac, Md.
“UWGB’s environmental program. It was the
ground floor of a new experiment, a new vocabulary,
an innovative way of thinking... A real strong attraction
for me was the independent-study aspect there. I knew
I wanted control of my education.”
impressions: “Dr. John Reed was an
amazing teacher. Plant anatomy. He found a way of turning
a plant body into a real living being. I also remember
the interdisciplinary seminars at UWGB. One with David
Damkoehler (environmental design) opened windows on
how to approach problems.”
impressions: “I am one of the few
acoustic ecologists in the world. Certainly, UWGB was
a major contributor to what I am doing today.”
DEGREE: Population Dynamics, 1976
his quest for the pristine solitude of absolute wilderness
— where he captures the purest sounds of nature
— takes him far from his alma mater. At least
three times around the globe, in fact.
“Gordy Hempton, of all of us,” says college
buddy Eric Avildsen, “probably got the closest
to many of our dreams.”
A self-described “acoustic ecologist,”
with 60 albums and an Emmy Award to his credit, Hempton
is the Green Bay grad with arguably the most enduring
commitment to the 1970s-brand of activism that defined
He is now a recognizable brand name himself: The Sound
Tracker®. His work was nationally celebrated in
the 1990s documentary “Vanishing Dawn Chorus.”
A PBS crew followed him to the Australian outback and
the Brazilian rain forest, places where it is still
possible to audiotape earth’s tones without the
intrusive hum of civilization, distant roads and airplane
“The extinction rate for quiet places vastly
exceeds that for living species,” Hempton likes
He claims most people today will never know a true
wilderness experience, no matter how far they backpack:
“I have recorded sounds from more than 20 miles
away. And a single jet can obliterate (the experience).”
Nevertheless, Hempton dutifully stalks the sounds of
wildlife and wild places. He selects a likely spot
for his companion, Fritz, a mannequin-like head with
ultra-sensitive, binaural microphones to replicate
human hearing. Once the taping begins, he stealthily
retreats to a distance to let nature take over.
His “portraits of sound” have been compared
to the tradition of classic landscape photographers
including Ansel Adams, whose nature images captured
undisturbed, timeless beauty.
For Hempton, authenticity is paramount. His high-quality
environmental CDs are a world apart from the faux nature
tapes he says sometimes draw their “mountain
streams” from gurgling bathroom fixtures, or
“alpine breezes” from the whoosh of an
His recording of loons returning to a wilderness lake
at nightfall, to the accompaniment of distant frogs,
toads and owls, required both luck and many days in
remote northern Minnesota.
He’s on YouTube and i-Tunes, and sells tapes
from SoundTracker.com. He also accepts commercial clients.
Musicians, galleries, museums and media producers —
Microsoft, Smithsonian, National Geographic, Discovery
Channel and National Public Radio among them —
all contract for professional audio.
It started in 1980, he says, with a cornfield epiphany.
Driving back to grad school by way of backroads Iowa,
he pulled over as a thunderstorm rolled past, got out
to enjoy the warm rain... and listened. “It was
a beautiful concert. I remember thinking, ‘How
could I have become 27 years old and never truly listened?’”
He taught himself the basics of sophisticated, high-end
recording, and never looked back.
“Sometimes I can’t stay in bed. It’s
4 o’clock and I’m anxious to work. There’s
that old saying, ‘Find a job you love and you
never have to work a day in your life.’ That’s
how I feel.”
the VW: 'Sound Tracker' takes case to D.C.
to his activist roots in the 1970s,
Gordon Hempton is aiming his ’64 VW camper on
a cross-country, 106-day,
awareness-raising trek across America.
He left Washington state in April on a meandering route
to visit media outlets and professional and political
allies in support of his “One Square Inch of
Silence” campaign. His goal is Washington, D.C.,
by early July, where “The Sound Tracker”
plans to lobby the FAA, EPA and National Park Service
for noise-pollution legislation and no-flight zones
over selected ecological landscapes.
“One Square Inch” is what Hempton says
is the quietest place in the United States, in the
Hoh Rain Forest at Olympic National Park. He marked
the spot on Earth Day 2005 with a small red stone.
Insulate just that one-square inch of real estate from
noise intrusion, Hempton argues, and hundreds of square
miles of wilderness will benefit.
The stone — a gift from a local Quileute tribal
elder — is symbolically riding along on Hempton’s
trip. He plans to return it to Olympic this autumn.
Supporters may track his progress at www.onesquareinch.org.
“I went to prep school in New York City but took
a year off and worked in Germany. I was on the flight
back (and headed to Cornell University) when I opened
a Harper’s magazine and read about UWGB... this
new school for studying ‘Man and his Environment,’
and you could create your own concentration. When I
got back, I immediately hitchhiked to Green Bay.”
impressions: “What a surprise to find
that there was no UW-Green Bay, to speak of. The library
was under construction. I met with the admissions people
on the Deckner campus and I thought ‘Whoa, what
have I got myself into?’”
impressions: “People like David Kriebel,
David Freedman, Margaret Nicholson, Gordie Hempton,
Mike Conklin, Chris Stix, Jay Alexander, Bruce Ballenger,
Mary Sherwin, Billy Marsh, Linda Raczek, Claudia Schmitt.
And Prof. David Galaty, ‘an inspiration.’”
life: “I have great memories. Some
of us fixed up and lived in a farmhouse in Luxemburg
that hadn’t been inhabited in about seven years.
Rent was so cheap, like $50 a month. We had one working
car between seven people.”
Personal concentration, 1976
circle: “Just last summer I watched
Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth. I remembered
my studies in Green Bay and thought, ‘we talked
about all of this in college.’ We discussed things
like the danger of population growth, the impact on
natural resources. We were developing hybrid vehicles
25 years ago. Friends built a digester, producing methane
from cow waste. There was nothing in that movie that
wasn’t taught at UWGB in 1972.”
Eric Avildsen lives today in Burlington, Vt. He earned
a law degree, post-UWGB, and is closing in on 20 years
as executive director of Vermont Legal Aid. He oversees
35 other lawyers and 40 additional staffers giving
low-income, disabled and elderly citizens affordable
access to legal services.
“It keeps me busy, and I get to wear the white
hat,” he says. “Not every lawyer has the
opportunity to say that. I feel like I’ve done
important and rewarding work.”
The dawn of recycling
The new University of Wisconsin-Green Bay was a
leader among local institutions in pushing recycling.
The concept was novel enough that staff members
Sharon Gutowski and Bob Schott posed for this early
1970s publicity photo, demonstrating the ease of
Rock Island, Ill.
“I started at Oregon State in the zoology program.
I read about UWGB in a Seventeen magazine listing
of the top 10 innovative schools in the country. It
probably fed into my passion about nature and the sciences.”
impressions: “Exactly what I wanted,
with concentrations like ‘Ecosystem Analysis,’
and studying the relationship between the environment
and people. There was this very tight, but always evolving
group of folks who were fun and exciting, many of whom
had already done work for environmental causes. We
all were very active with trying to make sure UWGB
stayed true to what we had come there for — environmentalism,
but also interdisciplinary and problem-solving. The
campus was so raw and new, just barely out from under
impressions: “There were a lot of
long conversations into the night about how to to make
sure that the university, educationally and operationally,
was true to its mission. That meant decent food in
the vending machines and preventing a road plan as
part of an expansion... the road eventually got built,
but we made a statement about advocacy.”
Ecosystems Analysis, ’74
Nearly 35 years after UWGB, Mary Sherwin remains oriented
to social justice and community action.
She resides in Hartford, Conn., where she carries the
title “pollution prevention coordinator”
for her state’s Department of Environmental Protection.
She writes grants and coordinates citizen education
on pollution, climate change, household toxics and
green cleaning. Her special project is the Hartford
Neighborhood Environmental Project, cleaning up one
of the nation’s poorest cities.
Following graduation, she worked for CCAG — a
Ralph Nader activist organization — and completed
three master’s degrees, in environmental advocacy
at the University of Michigan, and public health and
management at Yale.
“I think back to how personal one’s passion
is in college. It comes alive again when you go through
it with your own children,” Sherwin says. Hers,
Liam, 22, and Fionna, 19, share a passion for social
“Because it was ‘Eco-U!’ I was a
high school eco-freak, and determined to devote my
life to improving the planet and reducing human suffering.
A friend of my parents had sent us the Harper’s
magazine article because they knew of my interests.”
impressions: “I came to visit in the
summer when no one was around. I was let into one of
the Bay Apartments, but it was completely empty except
for a bed and bare mattress. I slept under my coat
and ate out of the candy machines. When I came back
again during the academic year, I met a bunch of the
other crazy kids in the environmental groups, and I
immediately took to them.”
impressions: “I met a group of highly
motivated students and faculty (Dave Jowett was a favorite
professor) who shared a common sense of purpose: showing
how interdisciplinary education could tackle the complexities
of the environmental crisis. The faculty were very
supportive of whatever we wanted to do, and to their
credit, generally got out of the way when we made a
coherent argument about how we thought our education
should be organized.”
life: “We fought unsuccessfully against
a major campus expansion into what was then still part
of the golf course. We organized demonstrations, marches,
and finally a sit-in in Chancellor Weidner’s
office… I helped organize the Union of Young
Environmentalists, a pretty radical group… We
lobbied the state legislature for a special designation
for UWGB as having an environmental mission... We also
organized a national conference, inviting student activists
from all over. Our group had an office way up on a
top floor of the library. It was the major hangout,
and we were there all hours of the day and night. The
security staff was very tolerant.”
David Kriebel, now a college professor and administrator
himself at the University of Massachusetts Lowell,
reflects with admiration on UWGB of the early 1970s,
particularly Founding Chancellor Edward Weidner.
“He was a visionary, and quite courageous, to
try such a bold idea for an entire campus,” says
Kriebel. “I think in retrospect that the original
vision may have over-reached, but I am glad that I
was able to be a part of it.”
After UWGB, Kriebel worked with Dr. Barry Commoner,
famed champion of the environmental activist movement,
coordinating Commoner’s biology laboratories
at Washington University in St. Louis and working on
his 1980 Citizens Party campaign for president. Kriebel
then discovered his professional passion and earned
a master’s in physiology and a doctorate in epidemiology
from Harvard. He won a Fulbright fellowship to Italy
to study at one of the world’s premier cancer-prevention
Today, Dave Kriebel is co-director of the Lowell Center
for Sustainable Production. He specializes in the epidemiology
of occupational injuries, cancer, and certain respiratory
diseases; works to refine the use of quantitative exposure
data in epidemiology; and to better advise decision-makers
on health and environmental policy.
Came from: Worcester, Mass.
Why: “I wanted to make a difference, clean
up the environment. At UWGB there was a top-to-bottom
infusion of environmental issues… in writing
classes, chemistry, physics. The curriculum was revolutionary.”
First impressions: “Not a lot of infrastructure
there. What was there, we soon found out, was an incredible
core of faculty members. And with no grad program,
we got the benefit of small classes and research opportunities
and access to the faculty.”
Lasting impressions: “We did a lot of
‘learning by doing.’ It was unthinkable
that freshmen and sophomores could do such a thing,
but with Prof. Tom Abeles we got NSF funding for an
enormously ambitious project. We wanted to build a
digester to turn dairy waste into methane… I
remember going to see people in the agricultural engineering
department at Madison, and they had absolutely no faith
in our ability to pull it off… Well, we built
it! And it worked.
Full circle: “So many of the things that
seemed radical back then are now institutionalized.I
am encouraged by the fact — there’s almost
a sense of déjà vu — that the same
energy that spawned the environmental movement and
UWGB in the 1970s is growing up now around global warming.
I hope the younger folks at UWGB today will look at
their faculty, administration and curriculum with that
same sense of, ‘How can we make a difference?’”
and Environmental Change, 1978
David Freedman is a leading scholarly researcher on
environmental issues familiar to current-day residents
of Northeastern Wisconsin.
Topics include industrial chemicals in the environment
— things like chlorinated solvents in groundwater
and PCBs in freshwater sediment — and he is working
to identify potential biological treatments. In other
words, how fast can nature and its micro-organisms,
either left alone or with a little help, clean up any
Freedman says his choice of specialization wasn’t
particularly influenced by college-age proximity to
the Fox River and lower bay. “These chemicals
are issues all over America,” he says, but adds,
“I did get a lot of background, and learn the
scientific fundamentals, at UWGB.”
Freedman went on to earn a master’s and doctorate
in environmental engineering. He is a professor of
environmental engineering and science at Clemson University,
in South Carolina.
Midwest answer to Mideast oil
At the height of the 1970s Mideast oil embargo, UW-Green
Bay students including David Freedman researched
a cow-powered alternative, and built an early, methane-producing
digester at Bob Schott’s farm near campus.
from: Albuquerque, N.M.
“I had a high school teacher who read about UWGB
in Harper’s magazine. I believe they described
it as ‘Survival U.’ She thought it would
be the perfect school for me. I was an Earth Day activist.”
impressions: “I remember a staff member
saying, ‘This definitely isn’t Albuquerque.’
They were referring to the weather and the need for
the tunnels. I loved Green Bay; I thought it really
lived up to its name and promise. When I started in
1971, I found a large group of out-of-state ‘Eco-Freaks.’
I felt as though I found my own people.”
impressions: “I became an avid birder
at UWGB. Bruce Ballenger really got me interested in
birding and introduced me to my favorite spot, Mahon
Creek. I now help organize an annual birding festival
in the Four Corners region (near home in Cortez, Colo.).”
Ecosystems Analysis, 1977
Linda Raczek is an attorney and award-winning author.
Her book The Night the Grandfather Danced, about
dance on the Ute Reservation, won the Western Heritage
Award in 1995.
After graduating from UW-Green Bay she worked seasonal
jobs for the National Park Service and Audubon Society,
returning to Green Bay to volunteer as a Caucasian
human shield for the uprising at the Alexian Brothers
Novitiate. (A group known as the Menominee Warriors
Society tried forcibly to reclaim the land once owned
by the Menominee Nation.) There she learned about legal
advocacy, pursuing a career in law and becoming a children’s
She worked for Legal Aid within the Ute Mountain Tribe
as a children’s attorney, and when she left,
was asked to be a foster parent to a little girl (Autumn
Eyetoo) and a little boy (Josh Crazybull Hatch), now
ages 28 and 22 and her adopted children.
from: Highland Park, Ill. (and one year
at Drake University in Iowa)
“After the first Earth Day (1970), about three
or four very progressive institutions at the time were
getting a lot of publicity — UC-Santa Cruz, Evergreen
College in Washington, and UWGB. The word on the grapevine
was that UWGB was just starting up with a ‘Man
and the Environment’ theme, and was offering
something truly exciting. It was a place to get in
on the ground floor.”
impressions: “It was the birth of
the environmental movement, just an electric time.
We had students from California, Missouri, Massachusetts,
Illinois, a lot of New York folks, all coming together
in Green Bay... The three buildings (that existed at
the Shorewood site at that time) were not very impressive....
The open meadows and fields, the location on the bay,
the beautiful trails, the setting for the Bay Apartments,
those were incredibly impressive. I became environmental
editor of the Fourth Estate (newspaper) and I remember
bird watching was big, and we had a snowy owl spend
the winter… The class “Principles of Ecology”
was a favorite. We all idolized (Prof.) Keith White,
a fine scientist and a passionate conservationist.”
impressions: “I recall two important
projects. One was the Mobile Center for the Study of
the Environment. Students wrote a Ford Foundation Grant
to buy a mobile home, or van, and outfit it as a traveling
classroom throughout the Fox River watershed. We weren’t
really supervised by faculty, we were just college
kids traveling around, visiting schools, putting “communiversity”
into action… We had our field gear and testing
equipment, and the kids and their teachers would put
the waders on, too, and help us measure pollution in
the streams… We always ended with a big assembly,
and we’d pull out the guitar and sing ecology
songs… Another major project involved Dave Kriebel,
we tried to reach out to other campuses with a national
organization, the Union of Young Environmentalists…
the peak experience was going to Washington, D.C.,
meeting with the under-secretary of the Interior, and
making an environmental case to stop the Alaska pipeline
project. It was unsuccessful, of course, but it was
important for the conservationist perspective to be
part of the discussion.”
circle: “Part of being young is being
deeply passionate. I’m quite proud that many
of the things we advocated later became extremely popular,
status quo, part of the mainstream. What should today’s
students know about those days? One, you can make a
difference. Second, there’s quite a history at
UWGB. It was one of the most innovative experiments
in higher education, and really something quite remarkable.”
Population Dynamics, 1974
Bruce Ballenger, the author of six books, is a professor
in the English department at Boise State University.
In the years after UWGB he stayed in full-tilt pursuit
of his favorite cause. With a University of Michigan
master’s degree in environmental communication,
he launched a public relations career in environmental
advocacy, serving, among others, the Northern Rockies
Action Group based in Helena, Mont.
After time back East, where he earned a master’s
and then a Ph.D. in composition and literature from
the University of New Hampshire, he returned west,
to Boise State. He teaches composition, composition
theory and creative nonfiction.
from: Scarsdale, N.Y.
“I was always interested in the environment and
in high school had organized Earth Days. I heard about
campus and made a visit.”
impressions: “I loved the environmental
courses. ‘Ecosystems Analysis’ focused
on how species compete with each other, and how populations
I learned a strong set of skills for problem-solving
in that course.”
impressions: “It was a tremendously
positive experience with exceptional access to faculty.
There was a large group of people interested in the
environment. Most of them lived at the Bay Apartments
and cooked some meals together. Gordie Hempton and
I were later roommates in a little cabin off the bay.”
life: “I had a lot of fun. The winters
were cold but I did a fair amount of cross-county skiing
and winter camping.”
Individual Major — Environmental Values, 1976
When the Institutional Investor news service recognized
its “All-America Research Team” in 2001,
Chris Stix was an all-star selection.
The honor confirmed what Wall Street Journal readers
and CNBC financial viewers and many others already
knew: the Morgan Stanley analyst was among the nation’s
top talents, a go-to specialist in the areas of data
networking and Internet infrastructure.
Just a year later, he retired. Pursuing a personal
health interest and an important cause, and already
a board member, he increased his volunteer involvement
with the Joslin Diabetes Center, located near his home
in Weston, Mass. Joslin is affiliated with the Medical
School at Harvard University, where Stix earned his
MBA, with honors.
“I’d like to get back to my environmental
roots and what I care most about,” he says. “I’m
starting to explore but just haven’t found the
right opportunity yet.”
Still a consultant and investor, Stix spends his home
life with wife Michelle; twin boys, Eric and Jeffrey,
and daughter Robyn.
has changed, but environmental legacy still strong
David Freedman ’78 sees himself and early UW-Green
Bay history in the small photo at left. That’s
him in the checked shirt. Visible in the distance are
the Bay Apartments (circa 1974) and little else. Also
evident, if you know the story, is a bit about the
student environmentalists themselves.
“That old black-and-white picture says a great
deal about our resourcefulness,” Freedman says.
The college kids enlisted the help of the construction
unit of the local Army Reserve to help with their manure-to-methane
digester (page 7) at a farmyard on the edge of campus.
Sgt. Batts and the Army Reserve, presumably for practice
and public relations, agreed to excavate and install
the holding tank needed for the project.
The photo, then, illustrates what early UWGB called
“Communiversity” and today’s UW-Green
Bay calls “Connecting learning to life.”
Decades later, the pattern repeats. Working independently
and with new technology, another alumnus turned researcher,
Prof. John Katers ’91 and ’93, worked with
his students to pilot a more commercially viable manure-to-methane-to-electricity
project, at Tinedale Farms near Wrightstown in 2002.
A single example, it’s a story repeated across
UW-Green Bay today, where hands-on learning, problem-solving
and student resourcefulness live on.
is today’s environmentalism —
• Gov. Jim Doyle has designated UW-Green Bay
one of four campuses to pilot a program achieving
energy-independence by 2011.
• A newly appointed Sustainability Committee
is a fulcrum for campuswide action. See www.uwgb.edu/sustainablegb
• Mary Ann Cofrin Hall is a showcase for sustainable-design
features including photovoltaic windows.
• UW-Green Bay is a signatory to the American
College and University Presidents Climate Commitment
on campus greenhouse gas emissions.
• A new campus Master Plan is infused with
student involvement and
attention to environmental and sustainability concerns.
• UW-Green Bay’s Cofrin Center for Biodiversity
has grown as a unique educational resource for the
study of the western Great Lakes region.
• Students arranged a full Earth Week schedule
in April, and environmental projects were plentiful
at the spring student-research symposium.
grad, local impact
Jessie Fink ‘05 has had a big impact on a little
waterway. A star graduate of UW-Green Bay’s master
of science program in environmental science and policy,
Fink devoted her master’s research to documenting
runoff issues and water quality on Baird Creek near
campus. Her work was critical to a private citizens
group establishing a master plan for protecting and
expanding the greenway. (Suburban development is encroaching
on the once-rural picnic spot and natural area.) Fink
was invited back to speak at the 2007 dinner of the
Baird Creek Parkway Preservation Foundation. Today,
she works for JJR, a nationally recognized engineering
and architectural landscaping firm based in Madison;
she was certified a specialist in energy/environmental
design by the U.S. Green Building Council. Numerous
other UW-Green Bay students and faculty have contributed
to Baird Creek initiatives in recent years, and Steve
Lambert of Green Bay, board president of the non-profit
Preservation Foundation, is a 1977 graduate.
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