I wanted to share some information about the transformation of your campus with all students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community.
First, change is in progress in all aspects of the university and will escalate significantly over the next ten years, perhaps as much as has occurred in the first 100 years!
During my 41 years in practice as a landscape architect and planner, I have recognized that change is difficult for multiple reasons. Just as time is not static, this campus and its progress are not static. Thus, the University Landscapes and the grounds staff, for which I am responsible, must implement strategies to make our campus safe, functional, and aesthetically pleasing.
Over the next several months, the Grounds Staff will continue to perform landscape installation at various buildings and spaces in addition to our other routine responsibilities. This effort will include in some instances vegetation removal. Please understand that such removal does not occur before diligent evaluation occurs. Prior to a decision for removal, a plant material is carefully scrutinized. The first factor in the evaluation is does it make sense to maintain this plant? Then we inspect for the following criteria: (1) Is the plant healthy? (2) Does the plant pose a security issue? (3) Is the plant in a logical location? (4) Does the plant contribute to the aesthetics of the campus? and/or (5) Has this plant overgrown its intended environment?
The decision for plant removal rests on my shoulders, similar to a doctor who has to make difficult decisions. Please know that just as a doctor collaborates about surgery, I am collaborating with one of the State's leading Arborist before any plant is removed. Thus, when you observe change, please remember that the decision has been seriously considered and that the applicable decision is in the overall best interest of the University.
Please understand, I love trees, and I am working with our consulting Arborist concerning the issue of when to save or when to remove a plant. Relevant to this subject is the majestic Black Oak Tree (Quercus nigra) located at the northeast corner of T.J. Farr, which was just a sapling when Dixie College was founded. This Black Oak is one of the oldest in the state and is iconic to our campus. Thus, we are doing everything we can to promote the health and continued growth of this tree although it has health issues and is challenged based upon its close proximity to T.J. Farr and the adjacent sidewalk. Our current corrective/remedial action includes, pruning, fertilization, aerification, growth regulators and removal of sidewalk, resulting in placement of temporary walkways until new “mega-walks” are developed in conjunction with Centennial Plaza (the new multi-purpose outdoor space, soon to be developed between Derryberry Hall, Roaden University Center, Henderson Hall, and Dixie Avenue.
Pertinent to the Centennial Plaza project, we have strategically designed around all of the mature trees, such that they will be saved and will be incorporated into the plaza. To promote this objective, we are and will be pruning, fertilizing, aerifying, and introducing regulators to prepare the applicable trees for this project.
Ultimately, the objective of Facilities and the grounds staff is to change and revitalize the Tech Campus into the Southeast’s and one of the Nation's most aesthetic and unique environments which will play a significant role in: (1) the recruitment of students and faculty; ( 2) provide an environment which promotes inclusion; (3) fosters a sense of pride between students, faculty , staff, community and The Board of Regents, and (4) a campus which described as “beautiful” and which is impeccably maintained.
In closing, please understand my staff and I take great pride in serving TTU. We thrive on feedback! We want to provide superior results relevant to our assigned responsibilities.
We welcome any and all input as to how we can improve the quality of life for our University. I look forward to any and all feedback.
Kevin Tucker, RLA, ASLA, APA
Director of Horticulture and Grounds