Jay Golden named inaugural Pontarelli Professor
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
“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 Pontarelli. 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
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
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
“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
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.”