New ESF President Quentin Wheeler answers your questions at noon Monday
Hi, readers,
Our live Q&A with ESF President Quentin Wheeler will begin at noon, but you can begin submitting questions now.
Monday February 24, 2014 11:54
Quentin Wheeler: 
Thanks for joining us. I am looking forward to your questions!
Monday February 24, 2014 11:57 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
What is ESF doing to keep students here after graduation? Arew there environmental job opportunities here?
Monday February 24, 2014 11:59 Guest
Quentin Wheeler: 
ESF is constantly adapting to respond to changes in needs in the workforce and emerging scientific and technical challenges. If you compare our departments and majors over the past decade you will many examples of this process of change.
Monday February 24, 2014 12:00 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Is ESF looking to add more students?
Monday February 24, 2014 12:01 Guest
Quentin Wheeler: 
Because environmental issues will dominate challenges in the 21st century, it will be an area of growth. ESF could benefit from growth in the sense of added diversity of topics, faculty, and students and we are exploring just how much and what kind of growth is desirable and possible.
Monday February 24, 2014 12:02 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Are you looking at building partnerships with employer organizations?
Monday February 24, 2014 12:03 Guest
Quentin Wheeler: 
ESF, as part of SUNY, is increasing the opportunities for students to incorporate internships as part of their experience. We have a well establish history of maintaining close connections to employers in the region and state and responding to emerging employer needs. This is something we will continue to develop
Monday February 24, 2014 12:04 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
How about the academic departments? Are there majors or fields of research you think would be beneficial to add or expand?
Monday February 24, 2014 12:05 Guest
Quentin Wheeler: 
I am at the beginning of a process of working with ESF faculty to examine this question. We will work to identify the most important questions facing society and science and then critically assess how well our academic units are positioned to meet those needs.
Monday February 24, 2014 12:06 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From SteveSteve: ] 
Start Up NY? What prospects for ESF?
Monday February 24, 2014 12:06 Steve
Quentin Wheeler: 
We are in preliminary discussions with several potential partners under the StartUpNY initiative. We have set up a mechanism for faculty to examine such prospects to assure that ESF can bring added value to such entrepreneurs and that they in turn are beneficial to ESF goals.
Monday February 24, 2014 12:07 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
What sort of community outreach do you see ESF doing?
Monday February 24, 2014 12:08 Guest
Quentin Wheeler: 
ESF has a fantastic and well deserved reputation for community outreach. Beyond the transfer of answers to scientific, technical, and environmental problems to the community, we are committed to having an impact in other ways. One example is inspiring an interest in environmental issues in children, and assuring that as many as possible have a positive and personal experience with Nature
Monday February 24, 2014 12:10 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From JohnJohn: ] 
Is ESF looking to expand its campus?
Monday February 24, 2014 12:10 John
Quentin Wheeler: 
Short answer is "yes." Long answer is that it has its challenges given that our campus is land locked. In the near term, we do have plans for a new Academic Research Building that will not only add desperately needed square footage but equally needed upgraded laboratories
Monday February 24, 2014 12:12 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From JuliaJulia: ] 
So far, what are your impressions of ESF? Does the smaller size make it a very different experience from your previous employer? Can you see advantages in our smaller size when it comes to the college's organization and goals?
Monday February 24, 2014 12:12 Julia
Quentin Wheeler: 
My impressions of ESF are all positive. When I was dean of liberal arts and sciences at Arizona State, I had more than 20,000 students and 1,000 faculty... most of which I managed to meet in my five year term. The smaller size of ESF combined with the shared values related to the environment make it a unique and fantastic community which I feel very fortunate to now be a part of
Monday February 24, 2014 12:13 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
I'd like to know more about what outreach activities you're thinking of for children.
Monday February 24, 2014 12:13 Guest
Quentin Wheeler: 
As children increasingly spend their time in "virtual space" on computers and handhelds there is a danger of a generation of Americans who are removed from the kind of personal experiences with Nature that makes them caring, informed voters and curious about the world around them. My hope is that we can develop an outreach program that enables us to export the energy and curiosity of our students to youngsters in Syracuse, NYC, and across the state
Monday February 24, 2014 12:15 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From MikeMike: ] 
With a state budget that's never quite certain, what funding sources beyond NYS and tuition would you be looking into?
Monday February 24, 2014 12:16 Mike
Quentin Wheeler: 
Like every institution of higher learning, ESF lives with such uncertainty. Not only does this create challenges for meeting our day to day educational and research needs, it constrains the exciting new areas we would otherwise pursue. We will explore the full range of possibilities from private investors who share our vision to private foundations, grant giving agencies, and private partnerships
Monday February 24, 2014 12:18 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
What do you think of ESF's relationship with SU?
Monday February 24, 2014 12:20 Guest
Quentin Wheeler: 
I see ESF's relationship with SUNY as the best of two worlds. We have broad autonomy in respect to how we deliver a first-rate education and in choosing areas for research and scholarship and at the same time can leverage our association with SUNY to take advantage of its state wide resources. One example is openSUNY that is making resources available to develop leading edge online content that can serve students on and beyond campus
Monday February 24, 2014 12:22 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From BarbaraBarbara: ] 
What ideas do you have for ESF 's future that you are most excited about?
Monday February 24, 2014 12:22 Barbara
Quentin Wheeler: 
Among the exciting things on the horizon is stepping back and taking a hard, deliberate look at where we put our emphasis. What are the greatest environmental questions facing society and how can we make the best and most important contributions to solving them? Another is asking how we can make our curriculum even more valuable and challenging to students.
Monday February 24, 2014 12:24 Quentin Wheeler
Quentin Wheeler: 
Going back to a previous question, I intended to comment on both Syracuse University and SUNY. ESF has a century long close relationship with SU that is a very special one that has served our students very well and enriched SU in return in environmental areas. I am not yet sure what the appropriate balance will be in the long term, but whatever shape it takes it will be a collegial and close one
Monday February 24, 2014 12:27 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Do you have any thoughts yet on expanding ESF's reputation?
Monday February 24, 2014 12:27 Guest
Quentin Wheeler: 
ESF is a national treasure that is not as visible across the country as it deserves to be. I jokingly refer to a "department of shameless self promotion" that has a very serious side, working to share our story on a much wider stage
Monday February 24, 2014 12:28 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From MADMAD: ] 
Monday February 24, 2014 12:28 MAD
Quentin Wheeler: 
Colleges and universities play a very special and important role in our society. The most obvious one involves educating the next generation of leaders, but the return to society for its investments go much farther. In the case of ESF, increased knowledge of the environment and the most effective ways of addressing needs of society for sustainable solutions offers a strong return on investment. While many private entities exist that can address certain problems of today, colleges stand apart in the kind of fundamental discoveries that create whole new horizons of possibilities for solving problems tomorrow. This is a cost to society, yes, but it is also an investment with fantastic returns that are visible all around us
Monday February 24, 2014 12:32 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Why should science waste its time studying extinct species?
Monday February 24, 2014 12:33 Guest
Quentin Wheeler: 
We need to know what our planet's species are for at least three reasons. First, so that we have an ecosystem baseline. If we know what species exist we can detect change or loss. Second is biomimicry. Nature gives us 3.8 billion years of trial and error experiments to identify the best and most sustainable solutions to problems of survival. And third, and even more important to me, is curiosity. Who are we? How did we get here? What are we as we are? The answers all lie in studies of the full diversity and history of life.
Monday February 24, 2014 12:35 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From SteveSteve: ] 
What are your thoughts on the nature of the debate over climate change? It seems that science is the new statistics, where anyone can find a study that supports their case.
Monday February 24, 2014 12:35 Steve
Quentin Wheeler: 
Above all everyone should take a deep breath and a critical look at the data. The beauty of science is that by appealing to observations in Nature we are able to sort out opinion from fact. We need to then follow the facts where they lead us. As a backdrop to this science exercise it is important, too, to recognize that the face of our planet is extraordinarily dynamic. We face constant change of one kind or scale or another and would be wise to both study the biosphere in greater depth and work on ways of adapting, regardless of what may come
Monday February 24, 2014 12:37 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From nifkinnifkin: ] 
When it comes to career services, as a student, I'd like to see a better connection between the undergraduates and their graduate counterparts. What do you think about a (legitimate, not the one we currently have) ESF Job board. I suspect there are a great many graduate students who need some sort of help in the field. Would be an excellent way for undergrads to get their foot in the door.
Monday February 24, 2014 12:38 nifkin
Quentin Wheeler: 
Great idea. Every student who wants to be engaged in hands on research should have the opportunity to do so and, as you know, there is a great deal of this already. Research teams should welcome undergrads. While most do, your idea for a more efficient jobs board making students aware of the opportunities is a great one and I will look into it.
Monday February 24, 2014 12:40 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
As a noted entomologist, do you have a favorite insect or do you try not to play favorites?
Monday February 24, 2014 12:41 Guest
Quentin Wheeler: 
For whatever reason, each of us is drawn to or fascinated by some species more than others. One of my favorites is a tiny species of beetle that feeds on slime molds. Unlike its relatives, it eats the jelly like immature slime mold by crawling around in deep leaf litter at high elevations where it does not need to see or fly. It is wingless and its eyes reduced to mere slits across the front of its head. Because of its shiny head with those eyes, we named it after Darth Vader.
Monday February 24, 2014 12:45 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Regarding the institution's building infrastructures, what are your thought about expanding, building and/or stabilizing existing structures currently on campus?
Monday February 24, 2014 12:46 Guest
Quentin Wheeler: 
The campus has made great progress such as the Gateway and the beautiful restoration of Baker. The new academic research building will address some lab needs and add room, but many other needs remain. We have capital projects in line that will tackle overdue upgrades in other buildings but this of course takes time.
Monday February 24, 2014 12:48 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
How do you see SUNY-ESF growing further in the online course/degree offerings?
Monday February 24, 2014 12:48 Guest
Quentin Wheeler: 
Online content will play an increasingly important role in education at all levels. Delivering information online has the potential to enrich in-class time for analysis and discussion rather than information transfer. And online classes hold potential for campuses, like ESF, with specialized knowledge to offer classes to students on other campuses as well as to the public. We, like most institutions, are in early stages of deciding how and how much to utilize these tools.
Monday February 24, 2014 12:51 Quentin Wheeler
We're beginning to run low on time. Dr. Wheeler will continue to answer the questions we've already received until 1 p.m. but we can't accept any more.
Monday February 24, 2014 12:51
[Comment From Concerned PaConcerned Pa: ] 
When will ESF put security in their dorm? I have heard that they have no security guards or their own police in there. Does Syracuse's safety department go in there?
Monday February 24, 2014 12:52 Concerned Pa
Quentin Wheeler: 
Our residence hall is as secure as those on other campuses I am aware of. In fact, during my initial tour of the buildings on campus I, as president, was unable to get into the dorm as was the physical plant staff giving me the tour. Access to the residence hall is tightly limited to residents and appropriate staff. There is a good ration of upper classmen who live in the residence hall providing oversight and we do have an excellent team of law officers on campus who are a call away.
Monday February 24, 2014 12:55 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Hi Dr. Wheeler! Could you explain your statement about the urgency to identify new species at a time of rapid species extinction? How it is relevant? In layman's terms
Monday February 24, 2014 12:57 Guest
Quentin Wheeler: 
We have evidence that species are going extinct faster than we are discovering them. To put it simply, unless we know what plants and animals exist, how can we possibly hope to protect those we value, to assure that wild places are self-sustaining, and to learn important lessons from Nature. The very first step in facing a biodiversity crisis should be completing a simple head count of what's out there.
Monday February 24, 2014 12:58 Quentin Wheeler
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Do you think ESF is doing a good job of recruiting students? Is there anything you'd like to see happen in the future when it comes to student recruitment?
Monday February 24, 2014 12:58 Guest
Quentin Wheeler: 
Student recruitment is closely tied to ESF visibility. I would like to see ESF's national-level profile elevated so that we are attracting the the largest and best pool of students possible. Our unique educational experience should draw more out of state applicants and a greater diversity of applicants, both very achievable goals.
Monday February 24, 2014 1:00 Quentin Wheeler
That's all we have time for, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you, Quentin Wheeler, for taking the time for us and thank you, readers, for your interest and terrific questions.
Monday February 24, 2014 1:00
Quentin Wheeler: 
Thanks for joining us today and for your fantastic questions. I invite you to explore the ESF web site to learn more about what we are doing.
Monday February 24, 2014 1:01 Quentin Wheeler
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