Traditionally a time to celebrate the return of community for the spring semester, Spring Convocation today also featured a special tribute to Wilson’s Fulton Center for Sustainable Living, which is celebrating its 20th year in 2014.
“In the midst of a winter marked and celebrated in snow days instead of school days …, we come together in the warmth of Thomson Chapel to celebrate the beginning of a new semester and mark the rhythms of the lives we share together in pursuit of knowledge and understanding,” said Wilson President Barbara K. Mistick, welcoming students, faculty, staff and alumnae/i.
In her invocation, Helen Carnell Eden Chaplain Rosie Magee’s spoke eloquently to the theme of the ceremony—environmental sustainability. “Make us careful and generous of one another and with your creation,” Magee said in prayer. “Free us from any desire to exploit or deplete. May our actions reflect awareness of our own bonds with the earth and with each other.”
Wilson College, which includes a dedication to environmental sustainability in its mission statement, “had a relatively early commitment to sustainability,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty Mary Hendrickson. “The Richard Alsina Fulton Center was established 20 years ago, far earlier than many similar centers.”
The center was endowed by Wilson alumna Susan Breakefield Fulton ’61 in 1999 when she gave $1 million in memory of her husband, Richard. Susan Fulton attended Convocation and was recognized for her many contributions to the FCSL, which also include gifts to rehabilitate the Owens Barn and housing for interns at Fulton Farm.
Combining a visual presentation with remarks, FCSL Program Manager Chris Mayer presented an overview of the center—from its beginnings in 1994 to its current programming and facilities. She said Fulton Farm, which is an integral part of the FCSL, cultivates more than 50 crops on seven acres of land on the Wilson campus, providing 150 local families with produce for 26 weeks as part of a community-supported agriculture (CSA) subscription plan.
The FCSL completed several construction projects during 2013, including a pole building with rooftop solar array, produce wash station and rain garden. In December, the farm received U.S. Department of Agriculture certified-organic status, which is a step above the certified naturally grown designation the farm has had for several years, Mayer said.
“Here’s the next big question: What are the next 20 years going to look like?” said Mayer, who noted that a new strategic plan would provide direction for the FCSL. In addition, a feasibility study is under way to explore a possible new major involving food, which could significantly expand the FCSL’s integration into the college curriculum, according to Mayer.
President Mistick invited the Wilson community to be part of the first celebration of the FCSL’s 20th anniversary—a tree-planting event to be held on Saturday, April 26. The tree-planting, which is being coordinated with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s Pennsylvania office, will involve 100 volunteers planting 350 native trees and shrubs on Wilson’s McKee Green along the Conococheague Creek.
Also during today’s Convocation, new Wilson students, faculty and staff signed the Honor Principle as part of the matriculation ceremony.