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Pillsbury, Wackernagel named Rhodes professors

Venture capitalist Leland C. "Lee" Pillsbury '69 and sustainability advocate Mathis Wackernagel have recently been appointed Frank H.T. Rhodes Class of '56 Professors at Cornell for three-year terms. Pillsbury starts July 2010, Wackernagel July 2011.

A graduate of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Pillsbury is chairman and CEO of Thayer Lodging Group, a real estate investment firm; he is chairman of TIG Global, an Internet-based marketing firm that serves some 1,500 hotels around the world; EMC Venues, the largest resort and conference center marketing representation firm in the country; and Thayer Insurance Group, providing insurance to hotel and hospitality firms. He is also co-founder of numerous other businesses, including one handling central reservations systems to the domestic Chinese hotel and airline industries and a financial and analytical firm serving the hospitality industry.

Before starting his own businesses, Pillsbury was the youngest executive vice president in the history of the Marriott Corp.

In 2006, Pillsbury and his wife, Mary, made a transformational gift to the Hotel School to establish the Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship and were named foremost benefactors and builders of Cornell. They also support the men's rowing team and have established a scholarship fund at the Hotel School.

Pillsbury also serves on the Real Estate Subcommittee of Cornell's Investment Committee and on the Cornell Rowing Foundation, is a founding investor in the Johnson School's Cayuga MBA Fund and is chairman of the Major Gifts Committee for his class. He also serves on the Hotel School Dean's Advisory Board, the advisory board of the Pillsbury Institute and the Entrepreneurship@Cornell Advisory Council.

Wackernagel is co-creator of the Ecological Footprint, a data-driven metric that measures how much nature we have, how much we use and who uses what -- a tool for measuring human impact on the Earth so we can make more informed choices.

Footprint accounts work like bank statements, documenting whether we are living within our ecological budget or consuming nature's resources faster than the planet can renew them.

Wackernagel has worked on sustainability issues for organizations around the world and has lectured widely for diverse audiences, including at more than 100 universities.

He has previously served as the director of the Sustainability Program at Redefining Progress in Oakland, Calif., and directed the Centre for Sustainability Studies/Centro de Estudios para la Sustentabilidad in Mexico, which he still advises. He is an adjunct faculty member at the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has authored or contributed to over 50 peer-reviewed papers, numerous articles and reports, and various books on sustainability that focus on the question of embracing limits and developing metrics for sustainability, including "Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth, Sharing Nature's Interest" and WWF International's "Living Planet Report."

After earning a degree in mechanical engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, he completed his Ph.D. in community and regional planning at the University of British Columbia.

His awards include an honorary doctorate from the University of Berne, a Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, a WWF Award for Conservation Merit and the Herman Daly Award of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics.

The Frank H.T. Rhodes Class of '56 Professorships are intended to strengthen the undergraduate experience by bringing to Cornell individuals from every walk of life who represent excellence of achievement. Rhodes professors are appointed for a three-year term (with an option to renew for two years), and they visit Ithaca for at least one week during each year that they serve.

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Joe Schwartz