BAR HARBOR — An endowed faculty position in environmental science has been created at College of the Atlantic as part of the school’s $50 million Broad Reach capital campaign.
The establishment of the Kim M. Wentworth Chair in Environmental Studies will lead students toward a deeper love and respect for the environment while giving them the tools to accomplish real discovery and solutions for positive change, benefactors Kim and Finn Wentworth said.
“We need to inspire and equip future generations to be able to improve some of the conditions we face,” Kim Wentworth said. “We want to address the legacy issue: we, the baby boomers, may have recognized some of the problems early on, but we didn’t do enough.”
COA biology professor Stephen Ressel has been named the inaugural holder of the Wentworth chair. For the past 20 years at COA, Ressel has been passionate about bringing students into the field, in all seasons, for extended, direct experiences with the natural world. He said that he is greatly honored by the new title and the opportunity to continue bringing these experiences to students.
“Whether it’s directly related to whatever profession they ultimately end up in or not, I want field experience to be a huge part of their lives,” Ressel said. “That will hopefully lead to an understanding and appreciation of what’s out there, which then hopefully leads to a love of what’s out there, and then a strong, unwavering desire to make sure it sticks around for a long time.”
The Wentworth chair speaks strongly to the mission of College of the Atlantic, President Darron Collins said.
“In so many ways, Kim embodies the ethos and the dual mission of College of the Atlantic — to inspire a healthy, sustainable environment right here on Mount Desert Island and to graduate generations of leaders to help steward us through the most pernicious social and ecological concerns of the planet,” Collins said.
The establishment of the chair is part of the Broad Reach Campaign for College of the Atlantic’s Future, a $50 million effort to endow new student scholarships and faculty positions, create state-of-the-art, environmentally sustainable academic and residential spaces, and transition to a fossil fuel-free campus. The campaign has raised $44.5 million.
The Broad Reach campaign focuses $7.5 million on endowing faculty chairs, which provide crucial support for faculty research, creative work, and professional development. Establishing chairs also improves the college’s ability to offer competitive salaries and benefits, essential for attracting exceptional teachers to COA, Collins said.
To learn more about College of the Atlantic, the Broad Reach campaign, and ways of contributing, visit coa.edu/broadreachcampaign.