John C. Sawhill, president and chief executive of the Nature Conservancy for the last ten years and former president of New York University, died on Thursday of diabetes in Virginia, the New York Times reports.
Sawhill became president of the conservancy, which describes itself as the world’s largest private conservation group, in 1990. The organization’s mission is to preserve animals and plants by acquiring land and water to protect the environment from development, the Times reports.
In a statement released on Friday, the conservancy said that during Sawhill’s tenure it had protected more than 7 million acres in the United States; the conservancy work force had tripled to about 3,000, and that its membership had more than doubled, reaching 1.1 million people.
In 1995, under Sawhill’s direction, the conservancy completed the largest fundraising campaign in the history of the conservation movement, raising $315 million. Last March, Sawhill announced the start of a $1 billion campaign.
Sawhill served as president of New York University from 1975 to 1979. He also advised there presidents — Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, and Jimmy Carter – on energy policy.