W.C. “Rusty” Reise talks to a cadet prior to his speech at New Mexico Military Institute, Thursday night. Noah Vernau Photo
Geoscientist W.C. “Rusty” Riese spoke to about 650 cadets at Pearson Auditorium, Thursday, as part of a lecture series that this week has reached 11 schools and more than 3,000 students throughout the Pecos Valley. Riese’s speech, “Oil Spills, Ethics and Society: How They Intersect and Where Responsibilities Reside,” encourages citizens to become more informed about energy and to take leadership positions in public discourse.
Carl Hansen, NMMI director of public relations, said the school was offered the opportunity to have Reise speak to its corps of cadets by the Roswell Geological Society and professionals in the oil and gas industry, and represents a restart of NMMI’s Lyceum program that has been shelved for a couple years. The program, which is open to everyone, brings prominent personages from the public and academic world to talk about regional, national and global issues, Hansen said.
“It’s an opportunity to broaden their education into other areas that they may not necessarily get in the classroom,” Hansen said. “(Riese) gives them an opening on an area that many of these 15-, 16-, 17-year-old kids don’t know much about. And if we’ve learned one thing from oil spills like in the Gulf, ethical behavior starts with standing up and saying, ‘We made a mistake.’ And that, in the world of this environment and this school, that speaks to moral courage.”
Stressing the importance of leadership, Riese said NMMI cadets represent a unique student body that is more than capable of taking on the challenges that face the nation and the world. He said the most important part of learning comes after something is understood, when it’s time to share the information.
“We have a very important industry, and people don’t understand it, at all,” he said. “They don’t understand how it fits in the broader U.S. economic picture. And unless we get out of our silo, and talk to the public, they’re never going to understand. Today it’s become increasingly important because of world affairs and world events.
“If you weave together all of this big social issues that we’re talking about — global warming, climate change, population growth, energy resource limitations, general resource limitations — the message I’m trying to leave with the students, explicitly, is that these are the problems you have to solve.
“This is why you’re being challenged and pushed to get an education, and why you’re then going to be challenged to get a college education, and then be challenged to use the education to become informed. And now you go solve the problems that we haven’t been able to get solved yet.”