President Christopher L. Eisgruber, members of the Princeton faculty and friends gathered on the lawn behind Guyot Hall this week to celebrate Judy and Carl Ferenbach ’64 and the dedication of the High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI).
In 2020, the Ferenbachs made a transformative gift in the Venture Forward campaign to support Princeton’s environmental research and educational initiatives through the Princeton Environmental Institute, and the University honored the couple by renaming the institute after their philanthropic organization, the High Meadows Foundation.
“This new name recognizes the partnership and generosity of the High Meadows Foundation, which you established to help find workable yet creative ideas to solve global environmental and social challenges,” President Eisgruber said, addressing the Ferenbachs. “From oceans to agriculture, from environmental narrative to wind energy policy to hurricane prediction, our community of scholars and students is tackling the environmental challenges of the 21st century head on. The High Meadows Foundation has supported Princeton’s environmental efforts all along the way. And now, you’re helping us usher in a new chapter, an even broader vision for impact and leadership in this critical area.”
Carl and Judy Ferenbach established the High Meadows Foundation in 2007 to amplify the local environmental efforts they had begun in Vermont, where they have maintained a farm residence over the past several decades.
“Carl Ferenbach has been among our most steadfast champions, providing resources that have enabled us to expand our activities and personnel during the past two decades, and thus has created opportunities for innovative scholarship and the education of future leaders,” said Gabriel Vecchi, director of the High Meadows Environmental Institute and professor of geosciences and the High Meadows Environmental Institute.
Carl Ferenbach is the co-founder and former managing director of Berkshire Partners LLC, a private equity investment partnership based in Boston. In addition to his role with the High Meadows Foundation and its affiliates, he also serves on the boards of the Environmental Defense Fund, the Wilderness Society and Climate Central, a Princeton-based group of scientists and journalists who convey environmental research to policymakers and the public.
“We believe the future is going to be dependent on leaders who are trained across the Institute’s disciplines, that not only have a command of the science, but know the policy alternatives, are able to inform them with the historical context and are able to execute effectively both through an understanding of the political process and by establishing effective relationships with private-sector actors,” Ferenbach said. “This Institute and the students it empowers and trains are and will be uniquely positioned to take up those leadership roles.”
In addition to the new name, which went into effect in 2020, there are plans to move HMEI from Guyot Hall to a new facility currently under construction on Ivy Lane that will connect environmental studies and the School of Engineering and Applied Science in an integrated neighborhood.
The Venture Forward campaign supports the University’s strategic framework, and its fundraising and engagement initiatives are aligned with the key focus areas of that plan: college access and affordability, financial aid, data science, bioengineering, the environment, American Studies, and other important areas of inquiry that characterize Princeton’s commitment to the liberal arts.