$3.3 million fund will support students in Honors College, Gund Institute

In recognition of Senator Patrick Leahy’s decades of support for important research and teaching initiatives, the University of Vermont today unveiled a new $3.3 million fund that will pay tribute to Senator Leahy and his wife Marcelle. The new fund will benefit undergraduate, doctoral and post-doctoral students in two signature programs at the university, the UVM Honors College and the Gund Institute for Environment.

Funds for the Patrick and Marcelle Leahy Scholars Initiative were raised and will continue to grow through private philanthropy.  

“The Leahy Scholars Initiative will provide financial support and enrichment opportunities that will help us prepare students to meet the challenges that confront our state, our nation and our world,” said Suresh Garimella, UVM president. “This is a tremendously impactful way to honor Senator Leahy and the societal impact he himself has had over the last half century.”

“We are so proud of Vermont’s Land Grant university, and this ongoing investment in the future of UVM and its students honors its rich legacy,” said Senator Patrick Leahy. “To be a part of UVM’s future means so much to us, and to Vermont. We love the idea of being a part of training the next generation of climate scientists. We are inspired by the vision and determination of our students and can think of nothing better than investing in these emerging leaders.”

Shane Jacobsen, Lakshmi Garimella, Marcelle Leahy, Patrick Leahy, Suresh Garimella, David Jenemann, Tyler Ricketts

From left: Shane Jacobson, Lakshmi Garimella, Marcelle and Patrick Leahy, Suresh Garimella, David Jenemann, Taylor Ricketts

The Leahy Undergraduate Scholars program will support students selected from the UVM Honors College, whose members represent the top 10 percent of undergraduates admitted to the university, spanning all its colleges and schools.

The students, chosen competitively based on their academic record and engagement in community and other causes, will receive both tuition support and funding for high-impact learning opportunities, including study abroad, research, internships and community service.

The awards will be targeted to maximize students’ potential, foster innovation, build leadership skills and address need.

The Leahy Doctoral and Postdoctoral Scholars program will support doctoral and post-doctoral students engaged in activities supported by the Gund Institute for Environment, a community of 150 researchers and leaders from across UVM’s colleges and departments. The Gund Institute is also allied with 40 partner institutions in 10 countries.

Selected doctoral and post-doctoral students will receive funding for customized leadership training and real-world experience collaborating with leaders in government and business, with the goal of promoting a deep understanding of complex global environmental issues. Leahy Doctoral and Postdoctoral Scholars will conduct cross-disciplinary research on global environmental challenges with world-class mentors at UVM.

Early lead donors to the Patrick and Marcelle Leahy Scholars Initiative include the Barry and Wendy Meyer Foundation, the Roger and Victoria Sant Trust, The Boeing Company, Microsoft Corporation, the National Association of Broadcasters, The Walt Disney Company, the Joel and Carol Jankowsky Foundation and the Brightwater Fund.

”The Leahy Scholars Initiative presents a unique opportunity to create a living legacy while celebrating Senator and Mrs. Leahy as pillars of the state of Vermont,” said Shane Jacobson, president and CEO of the UVM Foundation. “Donors to date have come forward to recognize the positive effect of the Leahys on this region and the country as a whole. It has been an extraordinary honor working with benefactors to bring this vision to reality, and we invite others to join us as we seek to expand the program.”

The University of Vermont Honors College draws students from every undergraduate college and academic discipline, who live and study together, participating in cutting-edge research, engaging in innovative, creative expression, and tackling pressing societal challenges. The Honors College embodies the ideals of an interdisciplinary liberal education where learning translates into solving real-world problems.

The Gund Institute is UVM’s university-wide environmental research and policy institute, focused on sustainable agriculture, climate solutions, human health, and resilient communities. The Gund Institute accelerates collaboration among UVM scholars to understand global sustainability challenges, and builds strong partnerships to solve them with leaders in government, business, and civil society. The Institute builds on UVM’s longstanding leadership in environmental issues, and it is driving powerful integration among traditional disciplines of natural sciences, social sciences, business, health, engineering, and the humanities.

Give to the Patrick and Marcelle Leahy Scholars Initiative.


Jeffrey R. Wakefield