News from The New England Board of Higher Education

U.S. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy to be honored with New England Higher Education Excellence Award

Contact: John O. Harney, 617-357-9620 ext. 101 or

Jan. 7, 2011

Boston- The New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) will honor U.S. Sen.Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont at its ninth annual New England Higher Education Excellence Awards celebration to be held Friday, March 11, 2011, at the Long Wharf Marriott Hotel in Boston, Mass. More than 500 people will attend this event, including leaders of education, business and government from across the six New England states.

Each year, NEBHE presents Regional Excellence Awards to individuals and organizations that have shown exceptional leadership on behalf of higher education and the advancement of educational opportunity, and State Merit Awards to honor the innovative work of organizations, institutions or individuals in each New England state.

Sen. Leahy is the recipient of the Gov. Walter R. Peterson Award for Leadershipfor 2011, which honors an individual who has made significant contributions to improving higher education and improving access to higher education.

Sen. Leahy's personal experience as a first-generation college student was the impetus for establishing the Leahy Center for Rural Students at Lyndon State College in Vermont. The Center is a research facility focused on addressing factors, which influence persistence and attrition rates of rural students especially low-income, students who are from the first generation in their families to go to college. He has been committed to the idea that no young person should be denied the opportunity of a college education because of a lack of financial resources. He has consistently supported programs that provide students with access to affordable loans, funding for Pell Grants and federal work-study programs.

Sen. Leahy has also been at the forefront of increased funding for federal TRIO and GEAR UP programs, which provide critical services and incentives to disadvantaged students to reach their secondary or postsecondary educational goals.

He has also been a longtime champion of Boys & Girls Clubs across the country, especially in rural states like Vermont. Boys and Girls Clubs help prepare young people for college and their future through programs like "KnowHow2Go." Sen. Leahy authored the bipartisan Boys & Girls Clubs Centennial Reauthorization Act, which will authorize appropriations for the Boys & Girls Clubs through 2015.

In the area of intellectual property, Sen. Leahy authored the first bill in 50 years to reform the patent process, enabling colleges and universities to thrive in the arena of technology transfer. During his 36 years in the U.S. Senate, he has been committed to providing federal funding for world-class research projects at higher education institutions in his home state of Vermont.

"Pat Leahy's warmth and wisdom have been constants for Vermont and New England. He truly understands that a vibrant regional and global economy requires topnotch educational opportunities," said NEBHE President and CEO Michael K. Thomas. 

Additional information about NEBHE's New England Higher Education Excellence Awards is available online at

NEBHE is a congressionally authorized, six-state agency whose mission is to promote greater educational opportunities and services for residents of New England. NEBHE programs are principally focused on the relationship between New England higher education and regional economic development.

 New England Board of Higher Education