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Environmental Activist, Former Grand Rapids Mayor Heartwell to Speak at Ferris Sept. 24

George HeartwellFormer Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, a member of the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly, will speak on climate change on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 11 a.m. in the University Center ballroom on the Ferris State University campus. Heartwell was the United Nations' representative for U.S. Mayors at the 2015 U.N. Framework Conference on Climate Change in Paris, France.

A former three-term city of Grand Rapids mayor, with decades of advocacy for environmental and social causes, visits Ferris State University on Tuesday, Sept. 24. George Heartwell will speak on the topic of Climate Change at 11 a.m. in the University Center ballroom.

Bill Burmeister, a Ferris English, Languages and World Literature adjunct faculty member, was encouraged to expand the opportunity, with Heartwell, after the initial invitation to speak to his English 250 class.

“George is a board member for the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly, and my wife Nancy and I have a warm and friendly acquaintance,” Burmeister said. “Since English 250 is about helping students master the gathering and presentation of research materials, I have students in my class direct their learning toward climate change. When I told Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Paul Blake about my plans, he suggested that I discuss George’s visit with College of Arts, Sciences and Education Dean Kristi Haik. I am glad that the CAS agreed that it was an important issue and topic to offer to the campus community.”

Heartwell, a resident of Newaygo, serves as chair of the Assembly’s Governance Committee. The MRWA has had its office on Ferris’ Big Rapids campus for years. During his tenure as Grand Rapids’ mayor, the United Nations, United States Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Conference of Mayors all gave recognition to the efforts toward sustainability championed by Heartwell’s leadership and administration. Burmeister said that Heartwell will speak on his participation in the 2015 United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change in Paris, where he served as the U.N.’s representative for American mayors.

“Nothing will affect our students’ lives and careers more significantly than the advance of climate change,” Burmeister said. “Whether they are challenged to develop new materials, as Plastics Engineering Technology students, take up careers in Nursing or are involved in other disciplines, the impact of climate change on our environment will be of a paramount concern.”

Anyone with a disability, requiring special accommodations to attend Heartwell’s address can contact the CAS Dean’s office at (231) 591-3660 or by email.