Officials said the use of the name of actor Robert Redford, who serves as a special adviser to Pitzer President Laura Skandera Trombley on environmental matters, is to emulate his environmental advocating example and to honor his work.
Lance Neckar, the founding faculty director of the conservancy, said Redford has not said if he will donate money to his conservancy.
"We will talking to him soon," Neckar said.
The role of Neckar will be to create the research, engagement and teaching opportunities that center around Southern California environmental imperatives.
"It's a huge exciting opportunity, a one-of-a-kind opportunity," Neckar said.
College officials said the conservancy will combine hands-on learning with research to apply a liberal arts perspective and prepare students to find answers for current sustainability problems.
Additionally, media, art, creativity and environmental sciences will be used at the conservancy to reflect the way progress is made in the 21st century, officials said.
Next spring, the former infirmary on the campus will be renovated and repurposed with sustainable construction methods and an innovative design.
Pitzer College spokeswoman Anna Chang said the headquarters will host its first academic programming in fall 2014.
In January, Neckar said, he, donors and others will meet to discuss what the immediate next steps will be.
The Redford conservancy will occupy the Marston and Maybury-designed former infirmary on 11.88 acres of Pitzer's north campus that is part of the controversial Bernard Field Station area.
The land is not part of the settlement agreement between Friends of the Bernard Field Station and the Claremont University Consortium in February 2001, when it was agreed that 45 acres of the station would be kept wild for biological research.
The site is adjacent to the field station and was obtained in July 2011 when the Claremont University Consortium board agreed to sell 36 acres on the northwest corner of Foothill Boulevard and Mills Avenue to Pitzer, Scripps, and Harvey Mudd colleges.
Neckar said the Bernard Field station would not be changed but there might be adaptive experiments conducted to take advantage of it.
The conservancy is "about the education of the next generation of leaders on the environment of sustainability," Neckar said.
The project was made possible by a $10 million gift from Susan and Nicholas Pritzker, the largest single donation in the college's history.
Trombley said the college and Redford had the same values.
"I think that our long-time commitment to the environment is a perfect match since he shares the same values," Trombley said. "And he is a Southern California native and he's become increasingly concerned about what he sees as significant environmental sustainability issues that have been raised over the last 50 years and he believes Pitzer College is ideally positioned to start dealing with those issues."
Trombley said Redford is planning to come to Pitzer College in the spring to tour the conservancy location and meet faculty and students.
In 2005, Trombley said, Redford first came there to look at LEED silver residential halls. LEED is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - a four-tier rating system for high-performance green buildings by the U.S. Green Building Council.
"He was extremely pleased we would be doing sustainable construction and have an impact on the surrounding region," Trombley said.
At a news conference Monday in Los Angeles, Redford described his connection with Pitzer.
"What got me connected here in the first place that led to being a trustee was the fact that Pitzer was going to be greening its school," Redford said. "And I got really excited about that. So I came here to speak about that. And that's when I met Laura."
Redford added that he was able to get the school filmed for the Sundance Channel because of its residential halls.
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