Plymouth State University will open the 2005-2006 academic year, tomorrow, Tuesday, August 30 at 4 p.m. in the Hartman Union Building Courtroom with a formal academic convocation ceremony to welcome first-year students to campus. Filmmaker John Houston and the 2005 Distinguished Teacher Leonard R. Reitsma, Ph.D., professor of ecology and chair of PSU’s department of biological sciences, will be the featured speakers to introduce the academic theme of Living Lightly.
This year’s theme closely follows last year’s theme of Sustainable Campus, Sustainable World, which focused on long-term strategies for thinking and living that respect the right of future generations. Through Living Lightly, students will be asked to join a campus-wide examination of the potential effects of simplifying our lives and decreasing the environmental footprint of our consumption habits.
Walk well, my brother-walk well, my sister is the title of Houston’s presentation that will reflect on the influence of living in the Canadian Arctic, and the immersion in Inuit culture, had on his early life, and subsequently his career. Houston is known for his work on such films as Never Cry Wolf (Disney, 1981) and Fly Away Home (Columbia, 1996).
With the proceeds from Never Cry Wolf, Houston established the Houston North Gallery in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. He made his directorial debut in 1998 with an award-winning documentary Songs in Stone, which also began his Arctic trilogy. Songs in Stone is a story of Inuit art and his parents, James and Alma Houston, Inuit art pioneers. Nuliajuk: Mother of Sea Beasts is a quest for the ancient Inuit goddess. Diet of Souls is a look inside the mind of the Inuit hunter. Most recently he has been working as a producer, facilitating visiting productions such as The Snow Walker (2004), a film about a bush pilot and an Inuit woman who helps him survive a plane crash in the Canadian Arctic.
Reitsma’s presentation is Walking a Sustainable Path. His specialty areas are conservation, vertebrate ecology and behavior, and avian ecology. He received his bachelor’s from William Patterson College and his doctorate from Dartmouth College, both in biological sciences. He has served as chair of the Conservation Commission in Canaan, and in 1993 co-founded and became president of the New England Institute for landscape Ecology, a non-profit research and education institution.