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Antioch University Receives $1 Million Gift To Create The Tom Wessels Environmental Scholarship

Scholarships to be Awarded to Historically Underrepresented and Most Academically Qualified Students

Thomas Wessels

Tom Wessels

Antioch University is pleased to announce a $1 million gift from an anonymous donor to create an endowed student scholarship fund. Named after Environmental Studies Faculty Emeritus Tom Wessels, the Tom Wessels Environmental Scholarship will be awarded to historically underrepresented and the most academically qualified students who wish to pursue graduate and doctoral training in Environmental Studies at its New England campus in Keene, NH.

“This very generous donation will provide many talented, hard-working students assistance toward their degrees,” said Antioch University Chancellor, William Groves. “It affirms the importance of our mission to advance social, racial, economic, and environmental justice.”

The donor desires to support the continued operation and growth of degree and certificate programs offered by the Environmental Studies Department and enhance its position as a leader in environmental studies and environmental conservation. The Environmental Studies Department has been training environmental professionals and scholars for more than 50 years.

“We are grateful to the donor for this very generous gift,” said Dr. Peter Palmiotto, Chair of Antioch’s Environmental Studies & Sustainability Department. “The scholarship will provide support for students who historically have not had the opportunity to study in the environmental field.”

“Students are the University’s greatest asset,” said the donor. “They will be the ones who solve our current and future environmental challenges.”

Tom Wessels is a terrestrial ecologist and founder of Antioch’s master’s degree program in Conservation Biology. With interests in forest, desert, arctic, and alpine ecosystems, plus geomorphology, evolutionary ecology, complex systems science, and the interface of landscape and culture, Tom considers himself a generalist. He has conducted workshops on ecology and sustainability throughout the country for over three decades. He is the author of numerous books, and the latest is New England’s Roadside Ecology: Explore 30 of the Region’s Unique Natural Areas.

“During my 38 years of teaching at Antioch New England, my greatest joy was working with so many incredible graduate students,” Tom Wessels says. “I can’t think of a more fitting honor than to have this scholarship support future students.”

The Environmental Studies programs include:

  • PhD in Environmental Studies
  • MS in Environmental Studies with concentrations in Advocacy For Social Justice And Sustainability, Conservation Biology, Environmental Education, Science Teacher Certification, Self-Designed Studies, and Sustainable Development & Climate Change
  • MS on Resource Management and Administration with three curricular pathways in Leadership and Management of Sustainable Systems, Sustainable Development and Climate Change, and International Development and Climate Change
  • Certificates in Climate Change Education, Conservation Psychology, Environmental Education and Sustainability, Food Justice and Resilient Communities, Socially Responsible Organizational Leadership, Geographic Information Systems, and Climate Resilience Certificate for Professionals.

The gift will be dispersed over a two-year period with $100,000 available in year one for scholarships and $400,000 to start the endowment.  In year two, $150,000 will be available for scholarships, with $350,000 adding to the endowment principal.

Students who are accepted into a degree or certificate program are eligible for the scholarship.  Applications will be reviewed, and awards will be made as part of a student’s financial aid package if chosen to receive the scholarship.

Antioch University’s environmental studies programs integrate practice with theory in an environment that fosters scholarship and activism.

Antioch University was founded in 1852 in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Its first President was Horace Mann, the father of public education in the United States. Antioch’s mission is to provide learner-centered education to empower students with the knowledge and skills to lead meaningful lives and to advance social, economic, and environmental justice. Antioch University is a national university that includes campuses in Keene, New Hampshire; Yellow Springs, Ohio, Los Angeles; Santa Barbara; and Seattle as well as low residency or remote programs through the Graduate School of Leadership and Change and Antioch University Online. A bold and enduring source of innovation in higher education, Antioch University is a private, nonprofit 501(c)3 institution and has been continuously accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1927. Academic departments include Undergraduate Studies; Psychology, Counseling and Therapy; Education; Environmental Studies and Sustainability; Leadership and Management; and Creative Writing. Its New England campus began in Putney, Vermont in 1964 and is now based in Keene, New Hampshire. It is just over two hours from Albany, two hours from Boston, and less than two hours from Hartford. For more information, visit today.


Karen Hamilton ’17 (Antioch Los Angeles, MA) is Antioch's Director of Marketing for Content and Communications. She has used her storytelling and copywriting skills for more than twenty years, crafting articles and creating publications. She believes that communication is a powerful driver for social change.

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