President Poskanzer refuses alumni request to add Carleton’s name to Climate Emergency Letter

On July 18, 2019, forty-seven Carleton alumni emailed a simple request to President Poskanzer.

Dear President Poskanzer,

We write to urge you to add Carleton’s name to a Climate Emergency Letter to be shared with key government officials and the media prior to this September’s UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit. This letter has been organized by the EAUC (the Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education), the UN Environment’s Youth and Education Alliance, and Second Nature. Carleton is a member of Second Nature’s Climate Leadership Network.

Carleton’s affiliation with Second Nature means that it has already committed itself to the letter’s three-point plan:

1. Committing to going carbon neutral by 2030 or 2050 at the very latest;
2. Mobilizing more resources for action-oriented climate change research and skills creation;
3. Increasing the delivery of environmental and sustainability education across curricula, campus and community outreach programmes.

We ask that Carleton signs the Climate Emergency Letter individually, to reaffirm its commitment to these goals and to emphasize its awareness of the threat of climate change to its future and current students. Teodora Axente, Communications and Membership Officer with the EAUC, has assured us that individual signatures of the colleges in the Second Nature network are welcome.

You can find a press release detailing the content and intent of this letter on the EAUC website and a list of individual and network signatories on the SDG Accord website. Here is the easy online form for affirming our previous commitment and individually signing the letter. The deadline for signing is August 1, 2019.

Thank you for your attention to this request, and for Carleton’s commitment to the steps outlined above. Please do let us know if you have questions. The dangers of climate change grow more obvious by the day, and it is clear that we will not combat them successfully without an open-eyed acknowledgment of the problem by all sectors of society.


Rebecca Hahn, 2009
Sally Jett Davis, 1958
Richard Bell Davis, 1959
Theo Stroomer, 2005
Nancy Staab Traer, 1964
Hannah Tremblay, 2014
Allison Tucker, 2018
Patrick Dunlevy, 1972
Melinda (Mindy) Bell, 1980
Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew, 1991
Jesse Kriss, 2003
Robert Traer, 1965
David Loy, 1969
Andrew Tatge, 2009
Karin Fisher-Golton, 1989
Eleanor Haase, 1979
Jon Hahn, 2012
Hannah Waters, 2009
Jen Bigelow, 2009
Peter Scheuermann, 2012
Peter Samuels, 2009
Sally Robertson, 1979
Mikaela Robertson, 2009
Maddie Halloran, 2014
Laura Bramley, 2009
Walter Edstrom, 2017
Brett Smith, 1964
Benjamin Johnson, 1994
Mary B. Crowther, 1958
Stanley Siefer, 1964
Madison Willert, 2014
Eleanor Ackman Parker, 1963
Gwen Jenkins, 2014
Anne McManus, 1958
Kelly Williams, 2009
Pallav Kumar, 2018
Rodney Napier, 1958
Wilhelmine Shuck, 1958
Ella Kampelman, 2014
S Fredric Horwitz, 1958
Caley Shannon, 2014
Sophie Greene, 2014
Stephanie Swanberg (Moberg), 2010
Cliff Swanberg (Swanson), 2007
Brent Murcia, 2016
Dimitri Smirnoff, 2015
Fred Marschner, 1958


President Poskanzer responded on July 29, 2019.

Dear Ms. Hahn,

Thank you and your fellow alumni for writing to me about this matter.  As you know, Carleton has been a signatory to Second Nature organization’s Climate Leadership Carbon Commitment for many years.  I believe that umbrella organization’s signing onto this new letter encompasses the various commitments and plans our College has already made both to reduce its carbon footprint and also to engage in research and educational matters about climate change and the growing crisis it presents, all in accordance with Carleton’s Climate Action Plan {}.  I would also note that, as of this writing, it does not appear that most of our peer U.S. liberal arts colleges who are also affiliated with Second Nature are separate signatories to this new letter either.

Steven Poskanzer


We requested reconsideration and a public statement on August 27, 2019.

Dear President Poskanzer,

We are disappointed to hear that you do not wish to sign Carleton individually onto this Climate Emergency Letter. It would be a simple, easy way to emphasize the college’s commitment to fighting climate change and transitioning to green energy. As you will see if you follow this link, several U.S. colleges and universities have added their individual names to the letter, so Carleton certainly would not be alone in signing.

If you should like to join them, the networks organizing the letter are now gathering additional signatures for a later event: the COP 25 meeting in Chile in December. The due date to sign on in time for that event is November 1, 2019. We very much hope you’ll reconsider your decision, considering the urgent necessity of a worldwide response to climate change and the widespread interest of Carleton alumni in these issues.

In the meantime, we plan on posting our letter requesting Carleton’s signature online, so that the Carleton community is aware of our efforts. We’d like to include your response, and would ask whether your email (below) can serve as your official statement on this matter, or if you’d rather send us a separate statement.

Thank you very much for your attention to these issues.

Best wishes,
Rebecca ’09


The President responded the following day.

Dear Ms. Hahn,

My prior email to you was not written to be a public statement, however I did anticipate you might share it with others, and I will not now object to your doing so.  As I noted in earlier exchanges, the College remains committed to carrying out its Climate Action Plan and to teaching students about and having faculty do important research on climate change.

Steven Poskanzer


If you are likewise disappointed in President Poskanzer’s failure to take this simple step of reaffirming Carleton’s commitment to fighting climate change, you can let him know by emailing his office.

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