by Guy Page
Patrick Leahy, St. Michael’s College grad class of 1961, last month delivered the Colchester liberal arts college’s largest grant ever – on the taxpayer’s dime.
The $6.5 million grant to the SMC Center for the Environment will stretch over five years. It was part of Vermont’s large share of the 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, introduced by Senate Appropriations Chair Leahy last month. It passed both houses in Congress and was signed into law by Pres. Biden.
“The approximately $6.5 million funding – the largest direct grant ever received by the College – will fund the continued growth and development of the College’s Center for the Environment. The Center, which was officially launched in 2019, creates and supports interdisciplinary, project-based, and place-based education in, for, and about the environment,” a SMC statement said.
The grant to Saint Michael’s included in the bill was one of a number of appropriations over the years that Sen. Leahy, a 1961 graduate, has secured for his alma mater, SMC said.
The College is also continuing to implement a previous appropriation of $400,000 secured by Sen. Leahy in March 2022 supporting the Saint Michael’s Center for Global Engagement.
Saint Michael’s College said it anticipates that the funds will:
· Support environmentally focused career development programs, including developing a workforce training program.
· Expand environmental teaching and learning opportunities, including hands-on learning and service experiences through local and global collaboration.
· Increase collaboration with community partners to advance environmental work already happening in Vermont.
· Allow the hiring of additional staff and student employees within the Center, with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion and representing a variety of liberal arts perspectives.
Leahy was elected senator in 1974, and chose to not seek re-election last year. He was succeeded by Sen. Peter Welch, who took his first oath of office last week.