STARKVILLE, Miss.--Observing that the Mississippi State campus "has never looked better," university President Robert H. "Doc" Foglesong expressed pride that its appearance is catching eyes despite recent droughts.
"Our campus landscape provides the very first chance to make an impression when someone visits Mississippi State," he said. "The quality of our landscape is a reflection of the quality of the institution and is a strong marketing message, and we have only one chance to make that impression."
Foglesong commended the campus landscape teams, a part of the facilities management department, for work they've done despite two years of below-normal rainfall.
"We're disappointed that trees have died, but we're replacing them and adding new ones as we can," Foglesong said.
Jim Jones, executive director of facilities management, said 33 MSU landscape personnel maintain between 850 and 900 acres of campus landscape. "We're constantly at work to meet the highest standards of care for thousands of trees, shrubs and flowers," he said.
Jones said that MSU last year lost 38 trees to drought, but all were replaced and landscape crews have added 25-30 new ones. "It's an ongoing project," he said, adding that an arborist now provides consultation about tree life cycles on campus, as well as specialized treatments for stressed trees.
Like trees, many shrubs and flowers suffer during periods of drought, while others have spread beyond their intended flower and plant beds, Jones said.
"We've lost some because they were not adequately maintained over time," he continued. "Others are in the process of being thinned or removed because they have become over-mature."
Foglesong said he eagerly is awaiting the arrival of spring, when the campus is massed with color in well-maintained beds.
"Mississippi State is gorgeous in the weeks when flowers bloom around campus," he said, adding that he arrived on campus two years ago during the peak of the blooming season.
Foglesong said there have been recent concerns about landscape maintenance related specifically to daffodils, but that, like other campus plantings, the spring flower is receiving regular maintenance and replacement.
Added Jones: "Our daffodils, in particular, are planted sporadically around campus and many have become lost and stressed in the landscape." He said crews currently are digging up and storing as many bulbs as possible.
At a later time, the bright yellow flowers will be replanted "in more dramatic groupings," he added.
Foglesong said one of his goals--as reflected in the current "Reach for Excellence" fund-raising effort--is to ensure that the campus infrastructure and physical appearance are both inviting and pride-inspiring.
"Statistics reflect that a beautiful campus aids in the recruitment of students, as well as faculty and staff," he said. "We want Mississippi State to be a place that all are proud to call home."
For more information about Mississippi State University, see http://www.msstate.edu/.