Gift Advances Merrimack Environmental Initiatives

Merrimack College’s new Center for Sustainability and the Environment will provide the college and local community with a new platform to advance environmental awareness and support research and enhanced academic programs.

  • Students engaged in environmental work.
    Students engaged in environmental work. 

The center is the result of a gift from the environmentally active Martin family of Boxford, who established the McLaughlin Martin Family Environmental Innovation Fund at Merrimack.

“My hope is for Merrimack to become an epicenter of climate change and sustainability education for the community,” said Karen McLaughlin Martin ’75, who with her husband, Gary Martin, made the center possible. “The fund will help host speakers on campus, empower students to go out into the community, and get more people educated and involved.”

The center will help unify environmental inquiry and teaching at Merrimack while providing resources, speakers and research partnerships to address local issues. It has begun a range of issues in recent months, including an environmental film series, a raised-bed vegetable garden, a speaker series featuring local climate change experts and activists, a student mini-grant program and research on Shawsheen River sub-watersheds with community partners.

“The Martins’ gift has been a catalytic event for Merrimack,” said Jon Lyon, Ph.D., a biology professor and vice provost who has been serving as interim director of the center.

“The center is allowing us to unify three interlinking components to support environmental initiatives at the college — first, enhance our growing environmental curriculum and academic programs; second, fund innovative sustainability projects and initiatives across the sciences, engineering, the humanities, social sciences and business; and third, facilitate the development of new community partnerships centered on sustainable practices and addressing community needs in the Merrimack Valley,” Lyons said.

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