After raising more than $1.6 million to enhance the environmental science program, Thomas More College officials say they are better able to prepare students for careers in science.

The money will be used to renovate labs, buy equipment, build a LEED-certified conference center and make improvements at the Biology Field Station on the Ohio River.

“We hope that long-term (the program) will have a significant impact on this community, because we will create excitement that will cause these young people to major in those fields — areas where right now our region is lacking,” says Thomas More President Margaret Stallmeyer.

Thomas More is a Catholic, liberal arts college in Crestview Hills.

More Science Skills

“We want to become known as an area that produces a lot of highly skilled graduates in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) disciplines,” says Chris Lorentz, a biology professor who directs the field station.

New equipment and research facilities will allow faculty and students to work more closely with agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission. It will also mean more field trips, seminars, camps and workshops for community groups and K-12 students.

“We plan to utilize our new facilities to help educate and engage the general public on environmental issues that are relevant to their daily lives,” Lorentz says.

Thrilled by Support

A goal of $1.5 million was set two years ago and in 2009, a challenge grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation offered a $500,000 incentive for raising $1 million by May 31.

Donors include Citibank, Bank of Kentucky, Fifth Third Foundation,  R.C. Durr Foundation, Duke Energy Foundation, Toyota USA Foundation, P&G Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr.,/U.S. Bank Foundation and the George A. Renaker (M.D.) Charitable Foundation.

Stallmeyer says she was thrilled and honored by the support.

The environmental sciences program marries the liberal arts education experience with social responsibility and ethical citizenship. 

“Whether or not you go on to be a research scientist, if you develop those skills of analysis and critical thinking and observation, it’s going to help you no matter what you go into,” Stallmeyer says.

“We are hoping our students will be a better prepared workforce because of developing those skills.”