In a gesture meant as a nod to the direction of their alma mater with its focus on sustainability science and divestment from investments in fossil fuels, Mike Koutelis ’77, a business development manager for Budderfly of Shelton, Connecticut and his wife Rose have donated a wind turbine to Unity College in Maine.  The turbine will be used as an instructional tool.

Mike Koutelis personally delivered the turbine to the environmental college in December, and was pleased to learn from Professor Mick Womersley, a sustainability expert, that it would have an immediate impact.

“The main components will be brought into the physics lab later today for investigation and some preliminary re-manufacture,” Womersley said after unloading the wind turbine.  “It will be extensively used in the upcoming Sustainable Energy class and perhaps in future classes.”

A resident of Epping, New Hampshire, Koutelis is an engaged alumnus who praised his alma mater for its strong position on a host of environmental issues.  In recent years, Unity College became the first college in the United States to adopt a central focus on sustainability science, the leading-edge of 21st century transdisciplinary (collaborative) environmental problem solving. In addition, the College became the first in the nation to divest from investments in fossil fuels, touching off a growing nationwide movement.

“I embrace the vision that Unity College has offered for 21st century students to make sustainability a key component of their learning experience,” noted Koutelis.  He fondly recalls the sense of idealism that permeated the College community when he and his wife, Rose Koutelis ’77, were students.

“We came to Unity in the ‘70s when the environmental pollution awareness movement in the United States had reached a new consciousness and some of us embraced our heroes like Scott and Helen Nearing, John Denver, and others who called for change of thinking about the environment,” Koutelis said.  “The professors back then knew us personally and the small classroom setting gave us a great learning experience that was unique.”

He feels that the supportive, committed environmental learning community of his time as a student is still a feature of life at Unity College.

“There was a common bond then between all students and teachers and it is the same today,” noted Koutelis.  The community of students is focused on learning to become the next generation of wise environmental stewards, he says.  The alumni of Koutelis’ era, many of whom went on to become environmental leaders and leading-edge green entrepreneurs, are also supporting Unity College because of its environmental leadership and unflinching commitment to its strong environmental mission.

“We all loved being outdoors and were attracted to the natural beauty that surrounded us in such a quaint town that was safely tucked away in Maine,” Koutelis said.

Though many seasons have passed since Koutelis bid farewell to campus life, the commitment to preserving the natural world that led him to study at Unity College is still its most prominent calling card for students.

Koutelis has been involved in energy efficiency technologies for over 30 years, providing utility consulting and development of new energy emerging technology to the marketplace.  His wife Rose is a licensed Bowen Therapist.  They have four grown children: Heather, Megan, Robert, and Ben, and one grandchild, Samantha.

Thursday, December 05, 2013