A Flourishing Affinity

The 1964 Commons Garden, part of the Class of 1964's 50th reunion gift to Ohio Wesleyan, is being installed now in time for spring. The area will include additional open lawn space as well as trees, shrubs, grasses, and more than 1,000 bulbs and perennials. (Rendering by The Collaborative Inc.)

The 1964 Commons Garden, part of the Class of 1964’s 50th reunion gift to Ohio Wesleyan, is being installed now in time for spring. The area will include additional open lawn space as well as trees, shrubs, grasses, and more than 1,000 bulbs and perennials. (Rendering by The Collaborative Inc.)

It’s been nearly 50 years since Ohio Wesleyan University’s Class of 1964 became young alumni, but their affinity for their alma mater continues to grow.

That affinity will become a tangible part of campus this spring with the addition of the “1964 Commons Garden” in the JAYwalk area west of Hamilton-Williams Campus Center and north of Chappelear Drama Center.

“The Commons Garden is a meaningful way to add to the opportunities that the entire JAYwalk area provides for students,” says alumna Kathe Law Rhinesmith of Chatham, Mass., one of the chairs of the Class of 1964’s 50th reunion committee. “It emphasizes and helps implement one of the important elements of the University’s strategic plan – to create a more close-knit campus community.”

The new garden, now under construction, will extend the brick pavers defining the JAYwalk, enhance the existing English garden and other landscaping in the area, create additional lawn space, and serve as a tranquil oasis for students to gather, study, and enjoy the outdoors.

The finished space will feature a sweetly scented magnolia and other trees, along with a colorful variety of deciduous and evergreen shrubs, ornamental grasses, and flowering perennials. Many species are native to Ohio. The carefully selected plants include dogwoods, hydrangeas, junipers, inkberries, daylilies, hostas, spiraeas, sages, grape hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips in shades of red, pink, and ivory.

The Toledo-based Collaborative helped to design the 1964 Commons Garden, which will transform roughly 15,700 square feet, including a central space of about 6,500 square feet. Two-thirds of the 100-foot-by-65-foot center space will become lawn, featuring benches and Adirondack chairs to complement the adjacent “1963 Commons” area.

The 1964 Commons Garden is part of the JAYwalk renewal project that began in 2009 with a gift from the Class of 1959 to expand the brick walkway and refurbish the Memorial Gateway on the east side of Sandusky Street. The Class of 1961 added a matching gateway and expanded the JAYwalk on the west side of Sandusky Street. The Class of 1962 provided the eye-catching JAYwalk Fountain, and the Class of 1963 constructed the commons lawn space.

In addition to funding the garden project, the Class of 1964 also is raising funds to support a $500,000 contribution to the Ohio Wesleyan Fund, enabling the University to address areas of greatest need. To date, lead donors making 50th reunion gifts of $100,000 or more are:

  • Grant Kurtz ’64 and Chris Kurtz ’66 of Bonita Springs, Fla.
  • George ’64 and Linda Mahoney of Charlotte, N.C.
  • Margaret Collins Heeschen ’64 and George Heeschen ’63 of Huntsville, Ala.
  • Dr. Edward Miller ’64 of Baltimore, Md.

President Rock Jones said OWU’s alumni continue to impress and inspire him with their passion for the University and their commitment to helping future generations of students have the same transformational experiences that they enjoyed.

“Ohio Wesleyan would not be the premier University that it has become without the unwavering support of our alumni,” Jones says. “They understand the power of a challenging curriculum, a mentoring faculty, and a residential campus that supports a top-notch living and learning environment. I am grateful to the Class of 1964 and to all of our alumni for their commitment to their alma mater.”

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