HIGH POINT, N.C., April 20, 2017 – As several hundred community members gathered today at High Point University’s Cottrell Amphitheater to celebrate Arbor Day amidst the campus’s more than 3,000 taxa of plants, a special group of alumnae pledged to help keep the campus tree collection growing.
For the eighth consecutive year, HPU received the Tree Campus USA Award from the Arbor Day Foundation. First Lady Mariana Qubein has spearheaded the development of the arboretum and gardens on campus and works with student, faculty, staff and community volunteers to care for the gardens. She thanked the many volunteers and donors who support the collections on campus through their time and commitment.
Those supporters include David and Christine Cottrell, parents of a recent HPU graduate and successful business owners from Richmond, Virginia. The Cottrells, who were honored at today’s ceremony made the lead gift to Cottrell Hall, and this year they supported the Cottrell Amphitheater, where today’s event took place.
“All of our supporters helped us achieve our dreams, inspire our students, engage our community and showcase God’s hands on this campus,” Qubein said. “As you can see, our gardens are growing in place and in number. Our campus is lighting up with beauty and framed by nature at its best. Every building is surrounded by color. Every structure is framed with inspiration.”
Another group of supporters included Steel Magnolias, a group of women who graduated from the university between the 1950s and the 1980s. Anne Kerr Walker, their president, announced their efforts to increase HPU’s magnolia tree collection to over 130 trees, which will be the largest collection in North Carolina on a university campus.
“While friendship and loyalty to HPU have brought us together, we have endowed a scholarship that has grown over the last six years. As a result, we offer a scholarship to two deserving students annually,” Walker said. “Now it is our goal to surpass the largest amount of magnolia trees, which is 130, on any college campus in in the state of North Carolina. I have donated three trees in memory of my husband, my sister and my brother. Everyone has a different reason for supporting these trees, but whatever the reason, it is a wonderful idea and a beautiful thing to do.”
Jon Roethling, curator of the grounds, gave an update on new additions to and initiatives driven by the arboretum and gardens committee. Those additions include a water feature next to the Cottrell Amphitheater that includes 160 tons of rock and 12,000 gallons of recirculating water; the beginnings of construction for a greenhouse and nursery; and plans for a medicinal garden near Congdon Hall, which will open in the fall to house the Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy and Congdon School of Health Sciences. Roethling and his team have also shared their passion for the environment with children at local elementary schools.
“We continue to grow year after year,” Roethling said. “It’s an amazing challenge to wake up to with gusto every morning… Our tree plantings at local elementary schools around the High Point community took us to Union Hill Elementary this year where we planted a purple plum tree. When I asked the kids why purple was an important girl, one little girl said, ‘Because it’s the color of our community.’ We truly are High Point’s University and it’s important to reach out to kids and instill in them a love of the environment.”
Each attendee left today’s ceremony with a complimentary Cornelian cherry tree. The event was supported by Price Nursery and Landscaping, Terminix Triad and Vann York Toyota.