Cameron University to examine “Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities” during upcoming Academic Festival

graphic of festival logoCameron University will examine “Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities” in a series of presentations that comprise the university’s ninth Academic Festival, a dynamic, privately funded, year-long symposium that explores a topic worthy of in-depth study.  “Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities” will present numerous opportunities for the public to gain an understanding of matters surrounding this increasingly important topic. Through a series of presentations by nationally recognized speakers, Cameron will consider several aspects of sustainability, including food and agricultural practices; water and natural resources; sustainability in communities; and practicing a sustainable lifestyle. The presentations will take place throughout the 2014-15 academic year and are open to the public at no charge.

In addition to the roster of speakers, additional activities such as seminars, special events and cross-curricular emphasis in the classroom are strategically planned to support the study of the festival’s topic.

“Sustainability is gaining significant attention on the world stage as the demand for diminishing natural resources outpaces the production of those resources,” says Cameron President John McArthur. “By focusing on the challenges and opportunities of sustainability during the Academic Festival, we hope to bring to our constituents a greater understanding of the interconnections among economy, society and the available natural and human resources in our region.” 

Nationally acclaimed experts will headline the Academic Festival. Chef and agricultural activist Rick Bayless, water resource expert and professor Robert Glennon, city planner and urban designer Jeff Speck, and actor/environmentalist Ed Begley, Jr. will share their expertise and perspectives in a series of individual speaking engagements. Bayless, Glennon and Speck are slated to appear in the University Theatre. Due to expected interest, tickets – available at no charge – will be required. For information on acquiring tickets, visit Book signings will follow these presentations.

Begley will deliver the Commencement address on May 8, 2015 at Cameron Stadium.

photo of Rick BegleyThe festival kicks off on September 25 with a presentation by award-winning chef Rick Bayless. Bayless owns a series of restaurants in Chicago, and his award-winning Frontera line of salsas, cooking sauces and organic chips can be found coast-to-coast. In 2003, Bayless and his staff established the Frontera Farmer Foundation to support small Midwestern farms. Each year, grants are awarded to farmers for capital improvements to their family farms, encouraging greater production and profitability. To date, the Foundation has awarded $1.2 million to 71 farms. In 2007, Bayless and his team launched the Frontera Scholarship, a full-tuition scholarship that sends a Mexican-American Chicago Public School student to Kendall College to study culinary arts. That same year, he was named Humanitarian of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals for his many philanthropic endeavors.

Tickets for Bayless’ presentation will be available in early September.

photo of Robert Glennon Water resource expert Robert Glennon, Regents’ Professor and Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy in the Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona, will take the speaker’s dais on November 18. Glennon is the author of “Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America’s Fresh Waters” and “Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It.” He has received two National Science Foundation grants and has served as an advisor to governments, law firms, corporations, and NGOs on water law and policy. He is also a regular commentator and analyst for various television and radio programs and for the print media.

photo of Jeff SpeckCity planner and urban design Jeff Speck will be the first speaker of the Spring 2015 semester on March 12. Speck is an international advocate for smart growth and sustainable design. As Director of Design at the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 through 2007, he presided over the Mayors’ Institute on City Design and created a new initiative, the Governors’ Institute on Community Design. Prior to his federal appointment, Speck spent 10 years as Director of Town Planning at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co., the founders of the New Urbanism movement, where he directed or managed more than 40 of the firm’s projects. Since 2007, he has led Speck & Associates LLC, a boutique planning firm that specializes in making downtowns more walkable. His recent book, “Walkable City,” which the Christian Science Monitor called “timely and important, a delightful, insightful, irreverent work,” was the bestselling planning/design book of 2013.

Photo of Ed Begley JrThe fourth speaker of the Academic Festival will be Ed Begley, Jr. one of the country’s most visible sustainable living advocates. He will address the Class of 2015 during Cameron’s annual Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 8 at Cameron Stadium.  An actor best known for his six Emmy nominations for “St. Elsewhere,” collaborations with Christopher Guest in “A Mighty Wind,” “Best in Show” and “For Your Consideration,” and his memorable commercial spots for the 2010 Census, Begley is also a staunch environmental advocate who practices what he preaches about going green. The star of the hit series, “Living With Ed” and the author of “Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life” and “Ed Begley, Jr.’s Guide to Sustainable Living: Learning to Conserve Resources and Manage an Eco-Conscious Life,” he is on the board of a number of prominent environmental organizations.

The McCasland Foundation of Duncan is the primary sponsor of “Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities.” Over the years, financial support for the Academic Festivals has come from the McCasland/Amquest Bank Endowed Chair, established by the McCasland Foundation in 1989. Additional funding for this year’s festival is provided by the Cameron University Foundation and through Cameron University Lectures and Concerts Series.

“Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities” continues Cameron’s popular series of Academic Festivals. Cameron’s first Academic Festival, “Year of the Renaissance,” took place in 1991-92. Themes of previous Academic Festivals include cultural diversity; science and technology; bridging the millennium; globalization and the human experience; health and wellness; and, most recently, an in-depth study of the country of Afghanistan.


July 9, 2014