Who? That may be the reaction of some people around the country when they hear that, in the first-ever independent, submission-based tournament to identify the top Environmental studies program, little Colby College, in Waterville, Maine, took home the top prize. But to those in the industry with any knowledge of top private academic institutions, Colby is a powerhouse, combining a top-flight academic reputation with an organically built environmental program.
Best of all? The college practices what it preaches, as is evident by the quality of its student survey, picture and video submissions, and the sustainability programs it has put in place.
We also have to recognize the excellence of the other Final Four members. Both Rochester Institute of Technology and Colorado State University finished within 13 points of the winner (out of a possible 500; less than three percentage points) and deserve recognition for the excellent programs they have built and the impeccable reputations of their schools. Purdue, the tournament’s last remaining “800-pound gorilla,” brought a lot of credibility and passion to its submission, and would join RIT and CSU as top contenders (or #1 seeds if you will) for the title in next year’s tournament. Unlike athletics where graduations and early departures may damage a team’s chances at repeating a deep run, these departments will likely return almost every year.
So hopefully our Sustainable 16 will be back next year to make their run, and will be joined by some of the other elite programs around the country, in the campaign to be the second annual champion.
So what did this year’s champion win?
The Colby College Environmental Studies Program will receive a $5,000 donation from Enviance. Also, an academic representative of the department is invited to attend the Enviance User Conference in April, where they will participate in a panel titled, “What Tomorrow’s Environmental Leaders Need to Know.” While at the conference, the representative can also attend sessions from some of the top professionals in the areas of environmental compliance and greenhouse gas management. Furthermore, two students will be picked from the Final Four overall to receive free netbooks, and one student from each of the four schools will be profiled in Environmental Leader, as one of “Tomorrow’s Environmental Leaders.”
But the best prize of all may be the recognition these schools are receiving for building first-class programs. Hopefully, companies looking for their next hires in the fields of environmental science and business will use the tournament results as a “short list’ for recruiting. And we think high school seniors may take a harder look at our Final Four, as well as schools like Humboldt State, UT-Arlington, Ohio State and UC Davis, when building out their list of potential colleges.
Again, Enviance would like to congratulate all of the Sustainable 16 schools and invite them to participate in next year’s competition (information on submitting to be available in December 2012). We would also like to thank our panel of independent judges, including The Brattle Group, CH2M HILL, Trinity Consultants, Valero and our very own CEO, Larry Goldenhersh.
Congratulations to Colby College, National Champion of the first-ever March Madness Tournament for Environmental Studies!