Saint Michael’s College to name its Center for the Environment for Patrick Leahy ’61 and Marcelle Leahy

September 13, 2023
Elizabeth Murray
Associate Director of Public Relations

Saint Michael’s College will name its Center for the Environment for alumnus and former-U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy ’61 and his wife Marcelle in honor of their lifetime of service and contributions to Vermont, to the country, and to the College. An event to celebrate the Leahys and the Center will be held on campus on Sept. 23.  

patrick leahyThe Center – which will be named The Patrick ‘61 and Marcelle Leahy Center for the Environment – received one of the largest grants in the College’s history earlier this year thanks to Leahy’s hard work and leadership on the 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. The $6.5 million in funding will fund the Center’s continued growth and development over the next four years.   

“The appropriation funding will have a long-lasting and transformative effect on the Center, and we felt it only appropriate to celebrate and give thanks to Senator Leahy and his beloved wife, Marcelle, by naming the Center for them,” said Patricia Casey, Chair of the Saint Michael’s College Board of Trustees. “We feel lucky to have had the friendship of the Leahys for so many years and are so thankful for their continued support.”  

During his almost half-century in public office, former Sen. Leahy was a fierce advocate for the environment and conservation efforts in Vermont and around the U.S. He supported many laws that prioritized clean air and water as well as minimizing humans’ environmental impact. He was also instrumental in securing funding to safeguard his home state’s natural resources, including the Green Mountain National Forest and Lake Champlain.   

The Center for the Environment at Saint Michael’s equips the next generation of environmental change makers with the skills, knowledge, and experiences to make a positive impact in their local and global communities. The Center uses the College’s core curriculum and liberal arts approach to focus its teaching, learning, and institutional stewardship in five areas: farm and food, ecological restoration, sustainability, environmental education, and environmental analysis. Exploration of these areas happens both in the traditional classrooms and the campus-wide living laboratory – the 360-acre Natural Area; the Teaching, Pollinator, and Tree Nursery Gardens, which are incorporated into the main campus’ landscape; the 1.75-acre Farm at Saint Michael’s; and the many sustainable initiatives that take place at the College. Connections with the greater community, including paid internships, research, and social impact projects, expand the students’ access to immersive learning experiences that set them up for success beyond Saint Michael’s.  

Former Sen. Patrick Leahy ’61 and his wife Marcelle Leahy pose with Former College President Lorraine Sterritt during her retirement party in June 2023. (Photo by Patrick Bohan)

“The Center for the Environment engages students to solve the biggest eco-social challenges of this century,” said Kristyn Achilich, Director of the Center. “Climate change is a complex systemic problem that requires coordinated and collective action to solve. With our already-established liberal arts and service-minded approach and now the Leahys’ support, we are well-positioned to prepare our students to be true change-makers.”   

Achilich added, “Our goal is to develop the Center into an environmentally focused hub of education and workforce development that other institutions look to as a model for high-impact teaching methods for today’s students and families. It is an honor to name our Center for lifetime change-makers who care so deeply about Vermont’s – and the world’s – natural resources.”  

A community event to celebrate Patrick and Marcelle Leahy and the Center will be held on campus on Saturday, September 23 at 4 p.m. in front of the pollinator gardens between Alliot Hall and Joyce Hall.

More preliminary information on the appropriation funding can be found here.>>

Read more about the Center for the Environment here.>>

Media Contact: Elizabeth Murray, Associate Director of Public Relations,

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