Sarah Lawrence College establishes Center for the Urban River at Beczak Environmental Education Center

Sarah Lawrence College and the Hudson River Valley Environmental Education Institute (HRVEEI) announced on May 1 an alliance that will establish The Sarah Lawrence College Center for the Urban River at the Beczak Environmental Education Center in Yonkers. Central to the Center will be a field station, the first academic research facility in Yonkers beyond the College's campus.

"Today we announce an exciting development that builds on the long-standing connections between the College and the Yonkers community, community organizations, and official agencies," said Sarah Lawrence College President Karen Lawrence at a press conference.

"Our faculty and students will have the opportunity to study and conduct research on the ecology of the Hudson River and the newly "daylighted" Saw Mill River; collaborate with local environmental organizations, including Groundwork Hudson Valley and the Greyston Community Gardens, where many of our students intern or volunteer; and participate in academic studies of the Hudson River beyond our own community," said Lawrence. "We are fortunate to have the support of a member of our Board of Trustees, Vicki Ford, and her husband Si, who have made it financially possible for us to begin this alliance and commit to planting this stake here in the Yonkers downtown."

"This location on the Hudson, with its access to the river and wetlands marsh, will be an extraordinary resource for the College's faculty and students and their academic partners," said Jerrilynn Dodds, dean of the College. "In addition to research in the sciences, social sciences, and other disciplinary areas, the alliance will greatly enhance the scholastic foundation of environmental education instruction at the Beczak center and the Kathryn Davis Riverwalk, programmed by staff of HRVEEI," she said. The College plans the following academic initiatives:

  • On-site, fieldwork laboratory research opportunities for SLC students in soil and water analysis, collection, preservation of biological samples, and wide-ranging projects centered on the ecology of the lower Hudson River
  • Data analysis and statistical research instruction and opportunities, including involvement in a Hudson River consortium tracking key Hudson River data
  • A semester of Service and Learning in Yonkers, with its Center at the SLC Center for the Urban River
  • Summer research in Ecology and Environmental Science, of particular value for SLC students seeking further understanding and depth in those fields and those intending to produce publishable research
  • Writing on the Environment
  • The River Journal—an online publication highlighting the research findings of students and faculty working at the Center and other writing focused on issues relevant to Yonkers and surrounding communities

Sarah Lawrence students will also participate in the continuing work of the Beczak Center, including educational outreach concerning the environment to K-12 students in the Yonkers community and beyond.

Commenting for HRVEEI, Board Chair Rochelle Odessser said: "We at Beczak are really looking forward to the affiliation with Sarah Lawrence and believe that this collaboration can expand the programs that are provided to a wider audience, as well as developing more comprehensive programs for the groups we already serve. I want to thank those that blazed this trail, especially our former executive director, Cliff Schneider, for initiating the discussions that brought the organizations together."

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L-R: Yonkers Deputy Mayor Sue Gerry; SLC Trustee Vicki Ford; President Karen Lawrence; Dean Jerrilynn Dodds; Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick