Pitzer College Announces First Ever Conservancy Devoted Entirely to Southern California Environmental Sustainability Issues

New Conservancy Named in Honor of Southern California Native Robert Redford to Focus on National and Global Applications

Claremont, Calif. (November 19, 2012)—Environmental issues unique to the Southern California region will get a lot more attention going forward as Pitzer College announces the launch of the Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability at Pitzer College. The announcement was made at a press conference with Southern California native and renowned environmental activist, actor and director Robert Redford and Pitzer College President Laura Skandera Trombley at the Los Angeles Press Club in Los Angeles, CA.

The Redford Conservancy at Pitzer College will occupy the historic Marston and Maybury-designed former infirmary located on 11.88 acres of Pitzer’s North Campus in Claremont, CA.  Beginning in spring 2013, the building will be repurposed and renovated using innovative design and sustainable construction methods.  The Conservancy’s headquarters will host its first academic programming in fall 2014.  

This project is made possible by a gift from Susan and Nicholas Pritzker — the largest single donation in the College’s history. One of the first liberal arts colleges in the nation to recognize the importance of environmental studies, Pitzer College has been a leader in sustainability and environmental education for nearly five decades. Legendary artist and activist Robert Redford, who serves as a special adviser to Pitzer President Laura Skandera Trombley on environmental matters, has also spent much of the last fifty years championing the preservation of the natural world. The Conservancy will bear his name to honor his work and emulate his example.

“Robert Redford is a trailblazing environmental advocate," Trombley said. “His tireless campaigning to protect the planet proves what individuals can do when they bring the full force of their passion and imagination to a cause. At Pitzer, our students learn to forge new ideas and innovations needed to create a better world.”

The Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability at Pitzer College will educate the next generation of environmental change-makers. The confluence of art, media, environmental sciences and creativity will be central at the Redford Conservancy to reflect the way actual progress is made in the 21st century. Combining research with hands-on learning and applying a liberal arts perspective, the Redford Conservancy will prepare students to create solutions for the most challenging and urgent sustainability problems facing the planet today. Research and studies from the Conservancy will influence regional, national and global policymaking.

“I am both humbled and honored by this acknowledgement and to be part of such a dynamic partnership with Pitzer College, an educational institution firmly planted in the 21st Century,” said Redford.  “We hope that this Conservancy will become a place of collaboration with the best thinkers and best dreamers to take on the sustainability opportunities and challenges embodied in the Southern California region, and apply them here and beyond,” continued Redford.  “I’m most excited about how inspired this place will be by the ‘nothing’s impossible’ drive of the Pitzer students who will study and discover here,” he added.

Pitzer College is the ideal home for a conservancy dedicated not only to preserving the natural world but to rethinking ways of shaping the built environment. Located on the eastern edge of Los Angeles, the country’s most populous county, at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, Pitzer is perfectly positioned to investigate complex issues facing communities where urban, suburban, agricultural and wilderness areas overlap. At the Redford Conservancy, faculty, environmental experts and community stakeholders will work with students to develop problem-solving approaches to shape policies regarding ethical water and energy use, human and ecosystem health, air and food quality and transportation alternatives in the region.

The Pritzkers are dedicated to promoting human rights, environmental sustainability, social justice and drug policy reform.  They support numerous philanthropic organizations including the Clean Energy Trust and Conservation International.

Susan Pritzker has been a member of the Pitzer College Board of Trustees since 1990 and was board chair from 1998-2005. Related academic program support for the Redford Conservancy has been provided by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Dean Witter Foundation and the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation.

A full press kit including videos, bios of speakers and photos is available online at www.pitzer.edu/redfordconservancy  

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

Press Releases, 2013–14 Academic Year