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Cornell University

Campus Beautification

Planting shrubs outside a Cornell building

What is the Campus Beautification Program?  The Campus Beautification Program provides a means for gifts to be directed toward sustaining the excellence of the Cornell campus landscape and for the donors to be recognized for their generosity.  Individuals, classes, groups, or departments are welcome to participate.

What does a gift to Campus Beautification do?  It builds an endowment fund that is devoted to the enhancement of the Cornell landscape above and beyond normal everyday maintenance.

How large might a gift be?  A gift of any size is welcome.  If it equals or exceeds $5,000 then a tree could be planted on campus to recognize the gift.  If it equals or exceeds $25,000 then a bench of a design suitable to its location may be installed.  If additional landscaping is requested for a bench area, we would add $5,000 to the cost of the bench.  Initial project costs are covered by the Campus Beautification gift.  Funds remaining after costs have been met are transferred into the Campus Beautification Endowment Fund.

Who selects the type of tree or area planting and its placement? A designer will work with the donor to identify a location and tree type that meets the donor’s desires within the context of the Cornell University landscape plan, site conditions, and the availability of satisfactory nursery stock.

How does the university mark the location of a gift area?  Donors are given a GPS coordinate of their tree or bench, and a general location on campus consisting of specific landmarks.

Plaques – Sometimes there is reason to place a plaque on a bench, or to tag or place a plaque near a tree.  This is decided on a case by case basis and must be approved by the Cornell University Committee on Memorials and Named Facilities.

When can a tree or bench be placed?  Most tree species have an optimal time of year when they should be dug from the ground and planted.  Early spring is usually the best time to move trees.

How much lead time is required?  Allow three months between the time when full payment of a gift is recorded at the University and the tree or bench is placed.  In order to ensure spring planting, planning should be underway by January.

Who maintains the area and for how long?  The University takes full responsibility for maintaining the gift area as part of the overall campus landscape.  If a tree should die unexpectedly in spite of this care, it will be replaced in-kind within a 25 year limit.  Every effort is made to locate donor recognition trees in places that are not subject to development.  However there is no guarantee that a construction project will not displace a given tree or bench.  Benches are taken off-site for protection and then returned, and the trees are later replaced in-kind following the project.  However, if the Campus Beautification Committee feels the life of the items, which are determined to have a 25 year maximum life span have exceeded expectations, they will not be replaced.  If this occurs the donor will be notified.

Who to contact?  The first point of communication is:

Associate Director, Office of Donor Relations

University Landscape Architect
Cornell University   or  Cornell University
AAD Administration Facilities and Campus Services
Susan Doney 607-254-6511 David Cutter, 607-255-2668

Note:  The Campus Beautification Program is devoted to central campus improvements.  Cornell Botanic Gardens manages separate programs for its areas surrounding central campus.