Tree plantings take place at Young Hall and St. Mildred’s Court
March 1, 2012 By Elizabeth Trollinger
ceremony commemorating the planting of three American
Beech tree saplings in front of Young Hall. Trees will also be
planted along St. Mildred's Court on March 4.
Anyone who’s visited Centre knows that trees play a large role in the beauty of the campus. What may not be so obvious, though, is how important trees are to Centre’s past, present and future. Tree-planting ceremonies at Young Hall and on St. Mildred’s Court ensure that trees will continue to thrive at Centre even hundreds of years from now.
On Monday, Feb. 27, three American Beech tree saplings were planted in front of Young Hall to replace — at least symbolically — a beloved American Beech tree that once stood there. Centre students had used the old American Beech tree, which did not survive the massive ice storm of 2009, as a landmark for decades — some even carving their initials into its bark.
At the ceremony, Professor of Biology Ann Lubbers spoke about the former American Beech tree planted in front of Young — which she and others estimate to have lived for 150 years — and how these new saplings carry on a kind of legacy of Beech trees at Centre.
“By replacing that tree with three new beech trees, we’re creating a continuum of beech trees at Centre. As they are right now, I can make use of them academically — I can show my students the distinctive and beautiful buds. In ten years or so, these trees will be large enough to cast shade for students to relax under them. In thirty years, these beeches will produce fruit,” Lubbers said. “Beeches typically live 200-300 years. If campus is around that long, we will have planted for the ages. That’s how I like to look at this: even more so than new buildings, a tree is here does not degenerate nearly as quickly as buildings do. We are planting for the future.”
Susie Roush revealed at the ceremony that David Grissom ’60, former president of Centre’s Board of Trustees and now a Life Trustee, donated the three saplings.
“David, like the rest of us here, has a great love and appreciation for trees. He watched with interest, hoping the old American Beech — with her broad boughs, engraved initials enclosed in hearts and well-kept secrets — would survive. When it was evident she would not, David immediately stepped forward to offer a replacement and, when he learned that American Beeches do better in groups, he offered three,” Susie said. “David and his wife, Marlene, have served and supported Centre in countless ways over the past 52 years — often anonymously. At a place like Centre — with legendary coaches, legendary staff and legendary faculty — David Grissom is a legendary Trustee.”
The Centre community is also invited to participate in a tree-planting ceremony on St. Mildred’s Court at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, starting at the lot across from Fox Hall. Residents of St. Mildred’s Court donated money for a total of 22 trees to be planted along the street, including in front of Centre residence halls Fox Hall and Rodes Hall.
Thomas Becker ’15 played a large role in planning the St. Mildred’s tree planting.
“I was asked to coordinate this project, dubbed the ‘St. Mildred's Tree Planting Extravaganza’ by Beau Weston, professor of Sociology at Centre and St. Mildred's resident,” Becker says. “He had talked to most of the residents on the street about getting more trees to start replacing the canopy that used to be there; the street has lost a lot of trees over the past few years due to storm damage. He then talked to Bonner coordinator Rachel Skaggs ’11 about getting one Bonner to put together this initiative as a part of our Bonner service. I was thrilled to start off my service with such a project.”
Residents of St. Mildred’s Court wanted to adorn their street with trees again after many of them were destroyed along with the American Beech tree in front of Young in 2009.
“The impetus was all the trees we lost in the ice storm, which made for a shadeless walk to Centre for all of us on the street — especially at the Centre end,” Weston says. “We will get shade and prettiness out of it, and a bit more solidarity.”
Becker has enjoyed witnessing the Danville and Centre communities come together over this project.
“Centre and the city of Danville really do care about each other. Our communities are not, nor have they ever been, two separate entities,” he says. “They rely on each other in ways that I haven't seen in any other college town that I've visited.”
The tree-planting project will be good for Centre and Danville in a variety of ways.
“There are innumerable benefits to planting trees. These simple acts show that we care not only about the positive environmental impact that planting trees can have, but also the aesthetic appeal that comes along with it,” Becker says. “It's a win-win.”
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Centre College, founded in 1819 and chosen to host its second Vice Presidential Debate in 2012, is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges, at 42nd in the nation, and ranks 27th for best value among national liberal arts colleges. Forbes magazine ranks Centre 34th among all the nation’s colleges and universities and has named Centre in the top five among all institutions of higher education in the South for three years in a row. Centre is also ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News for its study abroad program. For more, click here.