By Mitchell Diggs
University of Mississippi Communications
The University of Mississippi has been named a 2020 Tree Campus Higher Education institution by the Arbor Day Foundation.
The Tree Campus Higher Education program was launched in 2008 to honor colleges and universities nationwide that work to “create greener, healthier spaces on campus through their trees,” said Dan Lambe, president of the foundation, in a video message to university officials.
“The benefits of trees are immense, from keeping campuses cool and livable to creating spaces that improve the physical and mental health of the people who make up your campus community,” Lambe said.
The Tree Campus recognition reflects the university’s ongoing commitment to planting and maintaining trees for generations of students, alumni and employees to enjoy, said Jeff McManus, UM director of landscape services.
“Trees help clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink and provide habitat for all the wildlife we enjoy around us today,” he said. “Trees are a large part of the welcoming environment we all enjoy on campus.
“From the Grove to the entrances, the stately trees here at Ole Miss remind us of the importance of the commitment to planting and maintaining these treasures.”
To qualify for the Tree Campus distinction, the university met five core standards for effective campus forest management:
- Establish a tree advisory committee
- Establish and adhere to a campus tree care plan
- Dedicate annual expenditures for a campus tree program
- Host an Arbor Day observance
- Sponsor student service-learning projects
The main campus has thousands of trees, providing shade and beauty across some 1,000 acres. These include two state champion trees: a stately northern catalpa, near the Gertrude C. Ford Ole Miss Student Union; and an Osage orange, near the UM Museum. The Grove and Circle alone are home to at least 38 different species of trees.
The Department of Landscape Services has developed a Tree Trail, with a downloadable map, that takes visitors to 25 significant examples of campus trees. Since 2008, campus landscapers have planted more than 9,200 trees.
The Ole Miss campus is frequently lauded as one of the nation’s most beautiful campuses, and the Professional Grounds Management Society has recognized it with two Grand awards, sometimes called the “national championship of landscaping,” in 2002 and 2013.