In 1995, Freeport-McMoRan, Inc., a New Orleans-based international mining company, donated $600,000 to Loyola University New Orleans toward the development of an endowed chair in environmental communication. The Louisiana State Board of Regents contributed an additional $400,000. The endowed position was named the Loyola Distinguished Scholar Chair in Environmental Communication, and assigned to the university’s Department of Communications (now the School of Mass Communication).
The donor’s intent in endowing the chair was to provide an educational program in Louisiana (specifically at Loyola University New Orleans) in which mass communication students are taught to include research on all aspects of environmental issues. Garland Robinette, then Freeport-McMoRan vice president for communications, said, “All too often, it appears that journalists base their articles on a narrow field of information. We simply want to be assured that the students are taught to thoroughly research the issue before reaching their conclusions.”
After a thorough national search, Dr. Robert A. (Bob) Thomas, formerly chief executive officer of the Society for Environmental Education (and founding director of the Louisiana Nature Center) and vice president for environmental policy at the Audubon Nature Institute (both New Orleans not-for-profit organizations), was named the first holder of the chair in 1996.
In 1998, Thomas began operations of the Loyola University Center for Environmental Communication (LUCEC). The following year the Institute for Environmental Communication (IEC) was launched.
The sources of income for LUCEC are diverse.
The continuing operations of LUCEC are detailed throughout this website.