Individual Special Events: Pitzer College - Silver Award

2008 Circle of Excellence Awards Program
Category 7A. Individual Special Events
Pitzer College
Residential Life Project Celebration & Dedication Event


Emily Cavalcanti
Associate Director for Marketing and Public Relations
Office of Public Relations
1050 North Mills Ave.
Claremont, CA 91711-6101

Description of Event

With a backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains and beautiful Southern California weather, the completion of Phase I of Pitzer College's Residential Life Project was celebrated on Monday, September 24, 2007, in the interior courtyard of the three new residence halls. A large crowd of students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members were joined by celebrity environmentalists Robert Redford and Ed Begley Jr.

The three environmentally-friendly buildings were named in honor of Kenneth S. and Jean M. Pitzer, son and daughter-in-law of Russell K. Pitzer, the founder the College; John W. Atherton, the first president to Pitzer College; and Flora S. Sanborn, the wife of Russell K. Pitzer. The event honored the three lead donors of the residence halls: The Pitzer Family Foundation, Susan and Nicholas Pritzker and Peter and Gloria Gold while celebrating the College's commitment to green building and sustainability.

The evening began with student-led tours of the new residence halls to point out the buildings' green features. The inaugural exhibition, Fredric Roberts' "HUMANITAS," was held in the art gallery of the new Atherton Hall. A buffet/picnic style dinner was served with organic and locally grown foods as live music was performed by the Ralph Guzman Latin Jazz Band.

In addition to Robert Redford and Ed Begley Jr., speakers at the event President Laura Trombley, Pitzer College Board of Trustees Chair Gene Stein, Professor of Environmental Studies Paul Faulstich and Student Senate president Ben Kramer. The event culminated with a laser light show of texture and color focused on the new buildings planned and executed by trustee and alumnus Marc D. Broidy '95.

The buildings are expected to earn Gold LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the highest level ever awarded for residence halls. The planning process involved the entire Pitzer College community, especially the students.

Following the Residential Life Dedication & Celebration activities, the Office of Alumni Relations hosted an after-party for alumni and friends at the Grove House, an Arts and Crafts style bungalow located on campus. The next evening, September 25, "An Evening of Thanks" was held at a donor's home in Beverly Hills. This cocktails and dinner event honored those donors who made significant gifts to support the Residential Life Project.

Planning & Objectives

The Residential Life Celebration & Dedication event was organized to recognize, celebrate and thank all members of the Pitzer community who played keys roles in the special green building project-students, faculty, alumni, staff, trustees, and friends. A dedication ceremony was also incorporated to honor the lead donor families and philanthropic organizations for their generous support.

A committee composed of staff members, students and trustees was charged with planning, organizing and executing the details of the event and had approximately 3½ months in the planning process.

To coincide with this celebration of eco-friendly building, every effort was made to keep the Residential Life Dedication & Celebration a sustainable event. Electronic save-the-date & RSVPs were employed to minimize use of paper. A recyclable and re-useable Green Bag made from non-toxic, non-corrosive and non-allergenic materials in certified "non sweatshop" factories served as the invitation with the event's information printed directly onto it. The programs and signage were printed on recyclable materials. The buffet food items were all made with organic and locally grown ingredients. All food waste was composted. Cups, plates, napkins and utensils were potato-based and biodegradable and composted after use. The event's power was supplied by a bio-diesel generator. Pitzer College t-shirts made from bamboo fiber that is naturally anti-bacterial & biodegradable were sold at the event. The after-party at the Grove House also featured environmentally friendly elements such as organic wine and snacks, environmentally friendly candles and recycled paper napkins.

Special guests Robert Redford and Ed Begley Jr. were invited to share their remarks on environmental stewardship. Redford had visited Pitzer's campus in January 2007 to film a short scene for his film, Lions for Lambs, and was impressed by the College's socially responsible practices. Begley Jr. had also previously visited the campus to film a segment showcasing the green features of the new residence halls for his HGtv show Living with Ed. Both speakers applauded Pitzer's environmentally conscious efforts and the fine example it has set for other institutions of higher education.


Approximately 600-800 students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, parents, donors, and community members

Resources (including budget and staffing)

The institutional budget was $25,000 for the event. The remaining costs were covered by donations from Trustee Marc Broidy, Carrier Johnson, CAT Entertainment Services, Jonescape, and Southern California Edison.

The event was staffed by Pitzer College President's Office, Advancement Office, Facilities, Catering, Public Relations staff and volunteer students.

How your event impacts the mission of your institution

In 2002 Pitzer's College Council adopted the following statement of Environmental Policy and Principles:

Pitzer College strives to incorporate socially and environmentally sound practices into the operations of the College and the education of our students. Pitzer exists within inter-reliant communities that are affected by personal and institutional choices and the College is mindful of the consequences of our practices. A Pitzer education should involve not just a mastery of ideas, but a life lived accordingly. We are thus committed to principles of sustainability, and dedicated to promoting awareness and knowledge of the impacts of our actions on humanity and the rest of nature.

In upholding Pitzer College's commitment to environmentally sound practices, every effort was made to incorporate the sustainable use of resources into the Residential Life Project Dedication & Celebration event. The committee's efforts demonstrate that good event planning and environmental stewardship are compatible with each other and are beneficial to all. By having the event's festivities mirror the socially responsible choices made in constructing the new residence halls, the College community showed how it is living its motto: Provida Futuri-Mindful of the Future. The hope was that all of the event's attendees would be inspired by these efforts and by the responsibility we share to preserve and honor the Earth.


Professor of Biology David Sadava perhaps summed it up best, "Some events define a college. This was one of them." From the reusable Green Bag invitation to the incorporation of student-led tours of the new buildings, the committee planned and produced an event that truly showcased Pitzer's commitment to social responsibility. Attendees delighted in the opportunity to celebrate this commitment as well as to reunite with old friends and colleagues.

The completion of Pitzer's Residential Life Project as well as its Dedication & Celebration event also garnered the attention of the local and national media outlets. The new residence halls were featured in a National Public Radio segment titled "Colleges Create Eco-Friendly Dorm" as well as in a Los Angeles Times article titled "Green Goes to School." A feature story on the collaboration between Trustee Marc Broidy and student Vanessa Rundle to produce the event's grand finale light show appeared in Live Design, a magazine for live entertainment professionals in lighting, staging and projection. NBC 4 Los Angeles highlighted the new halls as part of their regular "Going Green" segment on the 5 p.m. KNBC News report and the KNBC Headline News Extra. The Sundance Channel also filmed the celebration and interviewed members of the Pitzer community for an upcoming episode of the series Big Ideas for a Small Planet.

The event was showcased in a special fold-out center spread in the fall issue of Pitzer's alumni magazine, The Participant. The entire issue's theme was "Building a Greener Future Together" and included feature stories on the College's overall green efforts.

Pitzer College was proud to have produced an event that created such a "buzz" about "going green," but attendees also recognized that the College's dedication to environmentally sound practices was not fleeting, but would go on long after the lights were turned down and the cameras left.