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Renamed, re-launched, Seeley Summit set for summer 2014 after two-year gap

Renamed the Seeley Summit, the Seeley Conference series will resume after a two-year gap, Cornell University announced Sept. 14. The 2014 invitational event, billed as the floral industry’s think tank, will be held June 22-24 in Lisle, IL, rather than on campus at Ithaca, NY, the conference board had decided. The topic will be water scarcity, according to a news release.

The first 26 Seeley meetings were four-day affairs on the Cornell campus. After a two-year hiatus 2012-13, the conference has been rebranded the Seeley Summit to reflect a more modern, interactive “meeting of the minds.” Attendees are limited to 100 to facilitate discussion and can expect round-table discussion, Q&As with speakers and panelists, and face-to-face networking.

Announcing the suspension of the conference in January 2012, board officials said attendance had been lagging behind expectations and a survey of attendees at a recent conference found two-thirds would prefer the conference move from Ithaca to a major city. The change in location was made to make the gathering more accessible to travelers. Lisle, a western Chicago suburb, is located between Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports.

The summit board believes water scarcity will be among the greatest challenges facing the floriculture industry in coming years, the news release stated. “The water scarcity topic is particularly well suited to the Seeley Summit as floriculture and horticulture’s major growing regions are in areas of regular water scarcity (arid West) or regions of occasional extreme shortage (Southeast) and no region is completely immune (Midwest drought, summer 2012).”

William B. Miller, a professor of plant science at Cornell, chairs the seven-member board for the summit and Neil Mattson, an associate professor of plant science at Cornell, is executive secretary. The central theme of Mattson’s research is to understand the influence of cultural practices and environmental factors, especially water quality, on floriculture crops.

The Seeley conferences were established in 1986 in honor of John G. Seeley, former head of the floriculture and ornamental horticulture department, after his retirement from Cornell University. He died in 2007. Each year, its board has chosen a conference topic deemed important to the future of the floral industry.