On September 12, the Sierra Club will honor Brevard College Professor Jim Reynolds at the Marines’ Memorial Club in San Francisco, California. Reynolds, a professor of Geology at the College, received the Club’s 2015 Special Achievement Award for his role in urging Brevard College to commit to divesting its endowment from fossil fuels by 2018.
Reynolds, who said he was deeply honored by the award, was the faculty leader behind the student-led campaign and worked closely with students to ask the Board of Trustees to consider divestment. With Reynolds’ help, Brevard College became the first school in the Southeast to commit to divesting from fossil fuels.
“He inspired our student body to take action for what we believe in, and personally that’s a lesson I’ll take with me for the rest of my life,” said Emily Crowley, president of BC Greens, the College’s environmental club.
Reynolds first introduced the idea of divestment to students and faculty in the fall of 2013, and the BC Greens decided to make it a top priority. With Reynolds’ assistance, the club started a petition and received more than 400 student and faculty signatures.
After a sit-in at the school library to raise awareness for divestment, President David Joyce offered to let the students present their proposal to the Brevard College Board of Trustees. On Feb. 13, 2015, the Board voted “yes” to divest by the year 2018.
In his written nomination of Reynolds, Steve Copulsky, chair of the North Carolina Sierra Club Chapter, praised Reynolds for “his encouragement and support for student activism and for the leadership and passion that he demonstrated in accomplishing an important environmental goal.”
The Sierra Club is a national grassroots environmental organization with more than two million members and supporters. The Special Achievement Award honors an individual Sierra Club member, committee, group or chapter for a single act of particular importance dedicated to conservation or to the Club, according to the organization’s website. Up to three may be awarded annually.
“There is no issue that (Reynolds) is afraid to talk about or fight for,” said student Jamie Ellisor. “He highly deserves this award because of the work that he did for Brevard College on divestment “Without (Reynolds), the College would probably still be trying to achieve this task.”