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Speaker Urges Balance of Development and Environmental Preservation

BOONE — National Geographic Society past president Gilbert Grosvenor told Appalachian State University graduates to balance development with good environmental stewardship in the communities they choose to live-“for your own well-being as well as for your neighbors.”

Grosvenor, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom this summer, the nation’s highest civilian award, spoke to about 850 undergraduate and 140 graduate students receiving degrees during Saturday’s commencement in Appalachian’s Holmes Convocation Center.

” What would New York City be today without Central Park? Or Washington, D.C., without Rock Creek? I want you to remember that open spaces not preserved today will be lost forever,” said the internationally known educator, businessman and philanthropist.

” Sustainable growth is absolutely crucial to any economy. Rapid, unplanned growth is devastating and will ultimately depress us economically. The U.S. has the fastest growing population in the entire industrialized world, and North Carolina is among the fastest growing states.”

Editor of National Geographic magazine from 1970-80 and a longtime supporter of geography education, Grosvenor urged graduates to ask tough questions. “When you choose a community, find out who decides the balance between development and preservation, who dictates transportation, schools, and natural resource protection. Become a participant. Become a civic-minded, geographically aware voter—a rare breed that the United States of America desperately needs today.”

Civic responsibility coupled with a solid understanding of geography will be one of this generation’s more important challenges, Grosvenor said.

” This is a worrisome time, when security rather than benevolence dominates our laws. At a time when we all question the value of what we are doing, I remind you that just as we want a secure world, we also want a peaceful, healthy, vibrant, living planet.”

The university presented an honorary doctor of letters degree to Grosvenor for his leadership in geography education, which includes creating National Geographic World magazine for children, the annual National Geographic Bee for fourth through eighth graders, and initiating the society’s Geography Education Outreach division and Education Foundation, which with its alliance partners has invested more than $110 million for geographic learning in K-12 classrooms.

An honorary doctor of letters degree was also presented to Dr. Longin H. Pastusiak, speaker of the senate for the Polish National Assembly and who represents Poland at NATO and the European Union. A leader in modernizing Poland’s government from a soviet-style hierarchy to a parliamentary democracy, Pastusiak has been a faculty member in Appalachian’s Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice.

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