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Jay Golden Named Inaugural Pontarelli Professor

August 24, 2021

The professorship is funded with a gift from Kenneth A. Pontarelli ’92 B.S. (Econ) and his wife, Tracey.

Jay Golden

Jay Golden

Jay Golden has been named the inaugural Pontarelli Professor of Environmental Sustainability and Finance in the Maxwell School’s Department of Public Administration and International Affairs.

Golden will teach across undergraduate and graduate degree programs, drawing students interested in diverse careers that intersect with sustainability and finance, including aspiring entrepreneurs, economists and policy makers. Golden also is a faculty research affiliate in the Center for Environmental Policy and Administration, and he has launched the Dynamic Sustainability Lab at the Maxwell School to examine the impacts of new technologies, policies and strategies aimed at meeting sustainability commitments.

“I’ve been an associate vice provost, a vice chancellor and the president at different research universities,” says Golden, “but my passion has always been being an educator and mentor to students and using leading research to help transfer theory into real world understanding.”

The professorship is funded with a gift from Kenneth A. Pontarelli ’92 B.S. (Econ) and his wife, Tracey. The goal of the professorship is to ensure environmental policy research is grounded in a realistic understanding of markets and financial mechanisms so that future environmental policy balances economic need with sustainability.

“Tracey and I are passionate about creating opportunities for students to get excited about sustainability as a career,” says Pontarelli, who also earned a degree in finance from the Whitman School of Management. “Dr. Golden's experience in this field, his passion for mentoring and developing future leaders and his vision for this curriculum is going to make Syracuse University’s sustainability initiative one of the best.”

Pontarelli joined the University’s Board of Trustees earlier this year. In 2018, he founded Mission Driven Capital Partners, a New York City-based firm focused on sustainability investing. Two years later, he returned to Goldman Sachs, the global investment banking, securities and investment management firm where he launched his career. He now serves as partner and managing director and leads private equity impact investing efforts within its asset management division.

“We are grateful to the Pontarellis for investing in this position,” says Maxwell Dean David M. Van Slyke. “It meets a need for our students to have an interdisciplinary, holistic understanding of sustainability at this most crucial time for industry and our environment.”

Van Slyke says Golden is an “accomplished academic leader, an entrepreneurial program builder, a scholar that seeks to make objective, evidence-based research accessible to multiple communities and a dedicated teacher who cares deeply about students having a rigorous and supportive learning experience.”

Golden will teach an introductory course for the relatively new environment, sustainability and policy (ESP) integrated learning program. ESP attracts a range of majors across the University’s 13 schools and colleges, everything from public health and religion to supply chain management.

Golden will also teach applied dynamic sustainability, a capstone course that will likewise draw from a variety of disciplines. He envisions diverse teams of students coming together to address real-world challenges brough fourth by corporations, nonprofits and government agencies.

“These capstones provide an incredible opportunity for Syracuse students to gain a greater understanding of the real-world challenges in sustainability that corporations and governments face,” he says. “They also provide them with opportunities to work closely with external leaders and gain expertise in project management, professional communications and team dynamics, which are attributes that organizations really look for in potential new hires.”

Golden will also teach a course for Maxwell’s Washington Programs that will focus on the global supply chain for sustainability. In the summer of 2022, he will visit London to teach European corporate sustainability.

“The courses I teach are really the nexus of business, public policy and sustainable technology transitions,” he says. “I try to provide the students an appreciation of sustainability as an ambition but also an in-depth understanding of the sciences and the real-world implications that both corporations and governments face in advancing a new generation of sustainable technologies and organizational strategies.”

The Dynamic Sustainability Lab will complement the coursework, serving as a hub for research and an important resource for government, business leaders and the media. “We want them to think of the Maxwell School as the place to go to understand current data and future projections for the sustainability transition,” says Golden, adding that he plans to leverage opportunities to tap into professional expertise across Syracuse University, including the highly regarded schools of communications, business, engineering, data science, law, education and more.

Golden received a Ph.D. in engineering from the University of Cambridge and a master's degree in environmental engineering from a joint program of Cambridge and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also completed Organizational Mastery of Project Management at Stanford University and attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education Institute for Management and Leadership in Education.

He attended the University of Phoenix and Arizona State University as an undergraduate, earning a bachelor’s in management. A campus public safety job focused on environmental health and safety at Arizona State piqued his interest in a career in engineering and sustainability. He began as a full-time police officer, focused on environmental crimes before launching a consulting business.

In 2006, Golden returned to Arizona State as a faculty member, one of the first in its School of Sustainability. He directed the National Center of Excellence on SMART Innovations` and also founded and co-directed the Sustainability Consortium, then the world’s largest industry-academia collaboration focused on research and workforce development.

Four years later, Golden joined Duke University, where he served as faculty chair of the business and environment program and director of the Duke Center for Sustainability and Commerce. He also served as associate vice provost for research and was appointed executive-in-charge of the Duke Corporate Relations Office.

More recent positions included vice chancellor and professor of sustainable engineering at East Carolina University and president and chief executive officer at Wichita State University.

Golden has penned over 150 articles, testified before Congress on sustainability and secured more than $30 million in research funding. Honors include the Faculty Pioneer Award—regarded as the "Oscars of the business school world"—from the Center for Business Education at the Aspen Institute. Golden was also named one of the 100 most influential people in business ethics by the Ethisphere Institute.

Since 2017, Golden has served on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He has also served on regional and state economic development and innovation councils and on committees for the United Nations Environment Programme.

“I am excited to work with Jay,” says Van Slyke. “We are already seeing new initiatives, opportunities and results from his active engagement and enthusiasm for collaboration. I have no doubt that the University and Maxwell will see collective benefits from his passion in connecting students and research to changing the way we think about the policy implications of sustainable energy investments.”

By Jessica Youngman

Published in the Winter 2022 issue of the Maxwell Perspective

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