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On the Waterfront
Washington College’s new waterfront academic building will be named for two environmental leaders at a Sept. 8 groundbreaking event.
Washington College will unveil the next major initiative in its drive to become a national leader in undergraduate environmental and sustainability programming, with a naming and groundbreaking ceremony on September 8 for the new waterfront Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall.
Named for Truman T. Semans and Jack S. “Jay” Griswold, two people whose lives’ work on environmental issues have had an extraordinary impact regionally and nationally, the new building will provide academic and lab spaces for the College’s growing environmental programs and its Center for Environment & Society. It will also be a regional hub for hands-on research on the Chesapeake, and a magnet for thought leadership centered on the environment and the challenges facing the region, the country, and the world.
“We at Washington College are so proud to be able to honor Truman Semans and Jay Griswold with the dedication of this beautiful new building,” says College President Kurt M. Landgraf. “Truman Semans’ lifelong leadership in the environmental movement, both locally and nationally, has literally changed our world. And Jay Griswold’s selfless devotion to this College, as well as his commitment to the Chesapeake Bay, is legendary. Both of these men stand as an inspiration to every one of our students.”
The event will also confer the Truman Semans Lifetime Achievement Award in Conservation. Semans, who in the late 1960s was among those who conceived the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), was presented with the College’s first Lifetime Achievement Award in Conservation in 2014 (the award is being renamed in his honor). He served on CBF’s board for nearly 30 years, and he was instrumental in linking the corporate world to the environmental movement, financing pollution control equipment for industry to help meet the goals of the Clean Air and Clean Water acts.
Griswold, who served on the board of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, is chairman emeritus of the Board of Visitors and Governors of Washington College and the parent of a 1994 graduate. The former chairman of Alex. Brown Realty and a former director at Brown Investment Advisory, he served as interim president of the College in 2014-15.
The Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall will serve as a model of responsible design, aspiring to LEED platinum certification. It will demonstrate the College’s commitment to stewarding the finite resources of the Eastern Shore, leading the way for environmental study, preservation, and advocacy. Open to the public, the building will include a network of sensors on the Chester River and Chesapeake Bay that staff and students will monitor and which will display the estuary’s natural systems as part of educating visitors.
Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall will complement and enhance the College’s diverse assets and powerful programming in the environment. These include the interdisciplinary academic majors in environmental science and environmental studies and the biology major, the Chester River Field Research Station and its far-reaching projects and research, the 4,700 acres of living classroom at Chino Farms, the Chester River Watershed Observatory, the research vessels Callinectes and Lookdown, the Chesapeake Semester, and the new Eastern Shore Food Lab at Washington College.
“We are tremendously excited about Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall, which will give us greater access to the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay as our fascinating, but challenged, natural laboratory,” says Leslie Sherman, co-chair of the Department of Environmental Science and Studies and the W. Alton Jones Associate Professor Chemistry. “It will enable students who are conducting watershed studies in our classes, or for their senior capstone or summer research projects, the ability to collect, observe, and process samples immediately. Experiments they could not have done before now will be possible. We are truly grateful to Truman T. Semans and Jay Griswold for their generosity.”
“Everything we do prepares our undergraduates—the next generation of leaders—to help solve the most pressing environmental problems of the 21st century,” says John Seidel, director of the College’s Center for Environment & Society. “This new waterfront academic building embodies that ethos and commitment, helping us create innovative programming and curricula, real-world experiences, training in cutting-edge technologies, and new ways of thinking that can help solve complex issues on the Bay and in the world.”