Citizens Board Gala Celebrates Pine Lake, Hughson

June 10, 2010

On Friday evening, June 4, more than 120 of Hartwick College's most loyal local supporters gathered in Stack Lounge, Dewar Union, to celebrate their commitment to the College, its important mission, and one exemplary friend during the Citizens Board Gala.

The annual event brings together Hartwick supporters from throughout the Oneonta area for a night of dinner and dancing in support of the Hartwick Fund, which helps the College toward its mission of melding a liberal arts education with experiential learning. During the 2010 Gala, billed as "A Lakeside Evening," the Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Susan R. Hughson.

A longtime friend and two-term Trustee of the College, Hughson dedicated her considerable energy to helping Hartwick and scores of other Oneonta-area institutions toward success.

"In her years of service to the Hartwick College Board of Trustees and the Hartwick College Citizens Board, she has quietly and steadfastly championed the value of a liberal arts education," Citizens Board President Laurie Zimniewicz said of Hughson. "Her philanthropic support has benefited Hartwick and countless other causes near and dear to her heart. She has invested her time and talents into numerous community organizations with a goal of furthering the success of each."

Taking the podium to the delight of those present, Hughson graciously accepted the honor.

"Thinking back to my beginnings as a native Oneontan, I realize that growing up during World War II had everything to do with our spirit of volunteering," she said. "Many of the men were serving our country in the armed forces, leaving the women behind to take on leadership positions previously held by men. My mom was one of those women, and I believe she instilled in me a deep humanitarian ethic.

"Having served as a Hartwick College Trustee for two nine-year terms, I know how important the Citizens Board is," she continued. "Oneonta is greatly enriched by the presence of the College, its faculty, and students, and the College in turn is enriched by the philanthropic support and outreach of the Citizens Board."

Indeed, the Gala also celebrated the contributions of those living within a 60-mile radius of Oyaron Hill. In the past year, 887 businesses, alumni, parents, and friends donated $799,188.83 to Hartwick College, money which directly benefited the College's students through myriad programmatic offerings.

Among those is Pine Lake, the storied facility that was the thematic focus of the evening.

Hartwick College President Dr. Margaret L. Drugovich took the podium to both thank the Citizens Board for their contributions and extol the virtues of Pine Lake.

"Established in 1971, the Pine Lake Environmental Campus offers students a unique living laboratory for sustainability, where ecological principles such as energy conservation, organic gardening, composting, waste reduction, and recycling are practiced every day," she noted. "It is a site where Hartwick students can put the theory of environmental sustainability into practice by studying and using the environment in ways that sustain rather than deplete resources. The lake, forests, eight miles of trails, and mud bog have been the collaborative learning sites of more than 40 courses and 30 ongoing student-faculty research projects, each connecting the curricular and co-curricular life of the College."

Further, Drugovich noted, the Pine Lake Institute for Environmental and Sustainability Studies has brought environmental efforts to a new level of success and integration at Hartwick.

"The Pine Lake Institute for Environmental and Sustainability Studies was formed in 2007 to encourage enhanced academic and co-curricular integration with the Hartwick College campus," she said. "Focused on supporting the Upper Susquehanna/Delaware River region, the Institute conducts research and sponsors and runs workshops focused on sustaining the local, regional, and global environment.

"The Institute has been a leader in campus sustainability, working with other departments, programs, and student clubs to create an organic garden, initiate a composting program, pilot the use of energy-saving technologies on campus, promote a campus agenda for sustainability, and enhance the greening of the College curriculum."

Drugovich introduced Casey Mullaney '12, a Hartwick English major, who detailed how Hartwick and Pine Lake in particular have made an impact on her education.

"I’ve lived at Pine Lake for two years now and in that time, the lake has been a lot of things to me personally," she said. "Pine Lake has been my classroom and my home. It is a place for work and a place to relax. Tied together with all of that, it is a place to learn. I think more than anything else, Pine Lake is about community.

"From May to September, we cleaned a lot of cabins and pulled a lot of invasive weeds, but I also learned how to garden from Peter [Blue], the Pine Lake manager," Mullaney said. "The vegetable garden behind the lodge became my pet project. I didn’t even know I liked gardening, but suddenly I found myself staying up late to read articles on permaculture, mixing eco-friendly homemade fungicide for the squash, and talking about the best methods of tomato-blight prevention with everyone I met. We saved most of the tomatoes, in case you’re wondering. This was experiential learning at it’s finest, and Pine Lake is nothing if not a place that facilitates that."

At the conclusion of Mullaney's remarks, the evening's entertainment took the stage, as Just Throw Money had attendees dancing long into the night, celebrating Hartwick College, Pine Lake, Susan R. Hughson, and the many contributions each has made to the greater Oneonta community.

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes a uniquely experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a unique January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for the world ahead. A Three Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Christopher Lott
Phone: 607-431-4030