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Network Puts the Focus on Energy and Environmental Interests

01/15/15
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Assoc. Professor Noah Snyder, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Ed Hayward | Chronicle Staff

Published: Jan. 15, 2014

Now in its fifth year, the Boston College Energy and Environment Alumni Network (BCEEAN) has quickly emerged as one of the largest alumni affinity groups, its growth rooted in the number of BC graduates working in a range of professions tied to the energy and environment sectors.

BCEEAN has grown to a membership of more than 700 alumni and developed initiatives that connect alumni, students, faculty and staff. The network serves as a resource for peer networking, industry trends, career mentoring and alumni engagement on campus, said BCEEAN co-chair Fran Dubrowski NC ’70, an environmental lawyer.

“There was a need for a networking organization for people with interests in energy and the environment,” said Dubrowski. “It was a way to connect alumni to BC because people connect at the level of their passions and their careers reflect those passions.”

In addition, BCEEAN connects alumni with recent graduates and current students, Dubrowski said.

“Our alumni want to help BC students and graduates jump start their careers,” said Dubrowski, who now heads Honoring the Future, a non-profit that uses art to teach environmental awareness. “At the same time, these young people bring so much energy and enthusiasm that they help to reinvigorate those of us who are further along in our careers.”

BCEEAN has placed a strong emphasis on creating partnerships with campus offices, such as joining with the Career Center to host a Green Careers Night and provide “externships,” or one-day job shadow opportunities. 

Sophomore Rebecca Gourlay, an Environmental Studies major, spent a day during winter break in Washington, DC, hosted by BCEEAN co-chair Patricia Williams ’77, a lead attorney with the US Environmental Protection Agency.

“I was able to meet with EPA staff and BC alums, people who were once in my position, and talk about how they came to work at EPA and where they went to graduate school,” said Gourlay. “It made it real to me that these kinds of jobs are very possible at a time when the job hunting process seems pretty daunting.”

The group has also lent its support to academic and administrative initiatives, championing the creation of the new Environmental Studies major and supporting BC’s energy conservation and sustainability programs.

University Trustee Frank Previte ’65, president and CEO of EBI Consulting, a Massachusetts-based environmental consulting firm, said the University’s academic strengths are aligned with the healthy job market in the energy and environment sector.

“The industry needs smart people and BC has these unique academic strengths in the College of Arts and Sciences, environmental law, environmental management and sustainability,” said Previte. “BCEEAN does a great job coordinating these industry trends and the opportunities for BC graduates to take their skills into the workforce.”

Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley said BCEEAN’s level of involvement is highly valued.

“I appreciate the commitment of BCEEAN’s membership to supporting our students and to strengthening our University’s engagement with critical issues of the environment and sustainability,” said Quigley.

Robert Sherwood, the Alumni Relations liaison to the group, said BCEEAN has made its presence felt on campus, hosting a two-day conference on sustainability, supporting the BC Arts Festival and participating in a Sesquicentennial forum on energy, featuring US Sen. Ed Markey ’68, JD ’72.

“I work with a number of alumni affinity groups and BCEEAN is, without a doubt, one of the most effective,” said Sherwood. “It is helping to provide educational information to alumni and students intended to engage alumni and support our undergraduates with interests in this area.”

The group distributes a newsletter three times a year, hosts a  LinkedIn group and a Facebook page.

Dubrowski said environmental stewardship is directly connected to the University’s Jesuit, Catholic mission.

“Energy and the environment permeate everything – the economy, culture, and lifestyle,” said Dubrowski. “It ultimately gets to the heart of so many things happening on campus, particularly at a Jesuit institution where the mission is to be men and women for others. It is really a good fit with BC’s mission. There is a leadership role there for BC to help chart a path that is sustainable not only for us, but for everyone.”

For more information about BCEEAN, see their Facebook page at facebook.com/bceean, or email them at envrn@bc.edu.