President McConnell addresses environmental journalists

Joyce McConnell SEJ

CSU President Joyce McConnell delivers her address before the opening plenary at the annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Colorado State University President Joyce McConnell expressed her gratitude for the important, difficult work being done by attendees of the Society of Environmental Journalists conference, during welcoming remarks on Friday, Oct. 11.

As she opened the morning plenary, McConnell acknowledged the daunting challenge of giving a speech to a packed house of professional communicators and shared a call to action from Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, who had written that it’s time to put an end to the “sugar coating of unpalatable facts.”

Carson’s words are still relevant more than a half century after she wrote them, said McConnell. “I am here to assure you that we at CSU are incredibly grateful to you for your commitment to telling the urgent, sometimes ‘unpalatable’ truth about our environment.”

Full remarks

Read President Joyce McConnell’s full remarks delivered at the the annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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McConnell acknowledged faculty, staff and students who are “probing environmental issues in fields as diverse as atmospheric science, anthropology, energy production and biology.”

She also told the writers, editors and reporters how some of CSU’s students were “actively geeking out because you are here.”

They want to join you in your work, she said. “I hope you take pride in knowing that you are inspiring young people to take on the challenge you face, of communicating difficult but incredibly important information to and about our world.

BLM director quizzed during panel

McConnell’s welcome came before a panel on “Public Lands at a Crossroad,” moderated by Juliet Eilperin, senior national affairs correspondent for the Washington Post. Journalists lined up on both sides of the room for the Q&A, with the majority of questions directed at William Perry Pendley, acting director of the Bureau of Land Management

Pendley declined to answer questions about climate change, and said that he had not yet been briefed by BLM scientists and experts since his appointment in July. He also refused to respond to controversial statements he made before assuming his current position at the BLM. “My personal opinions are irrelevant,” he said.

Dina Gilio-Whitaker, lecturer of Native American Studies at California State University San Marcos, said that more public lands should be given back to Native peoples, since most of it was illegally taken.

Read more about the session in Denver’s Westword and Huffpost.