Burlington, VT– The latest dedication to Vermont’s longest serving senator. If you take a walk on the University of Vermont campus, you might just find the Patrick Leahy Building. A new program was unveiled; the Leahy Institute for Rural Partnerships is said to strengthen communities.

“The Patrick Leahy Building will stand for generations as a fitting tribute to the senator’s legacy,” says UVM President Dr. Suresh Garimella.

The third longest serving senator in U.S. history, memorialized on the university’s campus. The Leahy Institute for Rural Partnerships is said to house programs that will work toward rural recovery, something Patrick Leahy strongly supported in his near half-century in office.

“It made me proud during the 48 years I was in the senate to know this is home, this is where I come back to, because my highest priority was always representing our state,” says former democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy.

Formerly the Hills Agricultural Sciences Building, the Leahy Institute for Rural Partnerships runs out of the newly established Patrick Leahy Building. The partnership will reportedly address workforce training, sustainable energy, affordable housing, food production, and agriculture.

The university’s president, and Vermont Governor Phil Scott, say UVM’s new partnership will turn research into application.

“UVM has an important role to play, and the Institute for Rural Partnerships can help UVM’s impact outside of Chittenden County grow even further,” says Scott.

The governor says revitalizing communities in all 14 counties has been one of his top priorities.

“How do we support our agriculture community, how do we strengthen our food systems, revitalize our downtowns,” asks Leahy. “These are easy things to say, but difficult things to do, and we want to do it.”

Leahy announced Trisha Coates will serve as the inaugural director of the Institiute.

Sen. Peter Welch echoes Leahy’s dedication. “There are values in rural Vermont. It’s hard work, self-reliance, and more than anything else, it’s community,” he says.

A $9.3 million award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture was funneled into the partnership. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack shared a message of congratulations through a video.

The ribbon cutting was followed by a panel discussion between Leahy, Sen. Welch, the governor, and UVM’s president. Just one of the many discussion points coming out of rural communities was talk of climate resiliency after July’s historic flooding.