York College of Pennsylvania will create a major in environmental horticulture with a multimillion-dollar commitment from the Powder Mill Foundation, established by the late Louis J. Appell Jr.

With a focus on environmental sustainability, the Appell Environmental Horticulture Program will include hands-on learning opportunities at Millbourne, Appell’s 50-acre private estate in York, according to a release from the college. Students may choose the environmental horticulture major beginning in fall 2021.

“This gift represents Louis Appell’s love of gardening as well as his commitment to York College,” said Michael H. Hady III, president and chief executive officer of the Powder Mill Foundation. “A key asset to the Appell Environmental Horticulture Program at York College is the Millbourne estate, where ornamental horticulture is showcased, and where important components of the new major will be taught.”

The gift will fund construction of new laboratory and greenhouse facilities on the York College campus, the hiring of faculty with expertise needed to teach in the program, and new equipment and supplies.

Students will choose from two areas of concentration, one oriented to ornamental plants and landscaping, the other centered on food plants and their use around the globe. Food production in urban environments will be an important component, linking the major to York City endeavors for food security, according to the release.

York College’s Core curriculum will allow students to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to manage fruit, vegetable, nursey and/or greenhouse production systems. Students will acquire knowledge and experience in the key areas of ecology, economic botany and taxonomy, soil science and plant nutrition, plant propagation, pest management, landscaping, economics and business.

Students will graduate with a strong scientific base linked to marketing and business-management skills that they can apply to niche markets, as York College’s location is a prime area for horticultural production and agribusiness of many types.

“The Environmental Horticulture major is rooted in plant science and growing plants for food and landscaping purposes,” said Chuck MacVean, dean of the Kinsley School of Engineering, Sciences and Technology, which will host the program. “York College’s program will allow students to understand and influence the production of food and ornamental plants with a global perspective of their use and how they impact global environmental phenomena.”

“York College has been the recipient of Louis Appell’s generosity for years,” said President Pamela Gunter-Smith. “Thanks to his commitment to education and passion for horticulture and the stewardship of land and natural resources, York College students in the Appell Environmental Horticulture Program will have hands-on learning opportunities that other programs simply cannot offer.”


This is the second recent multimillion-dollar commitment made to York College’s comprehensive campaign, EVOLVE. Retired physician Dr. Donald E. Myers of Red Lion made a $5-million gift to the in memory of his late wife to name the Dr. Donald E. and Lois J. Myers School of Nursing and Health Professions in late 2020, according to the release.

This gift is part of York College’s comprehensive campaign, EVOLVE: The Campaign for York College, which launched publicly on Oct. 1.

EVOLVE began in the summer of 2017 with the creation of the Strategic Plan for a Greater York College. Since then, thousands of donors have supported seven areas of focus: Academic Excellence and Innovation, Spartan Athletics, the York College Fund, Scholarships, York Country Day School, the Center for Collaborative Innovation (including the new Knowledge Park, Engaged Scholars Program, and the Center for Academic Innovation), and Spartan Commons, the new center of campus and gateway to learning. The goal for EVOLVE: The Campaign for York College is to raise $55 million toward these objectives, the release reads.

To learn more, visit evolve.ycp.edu.

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