Lower Campus vision comes to life

Oct 29, 2012

Lower Campus visionariesHeidelberg Trustee Andrew Kalnow is a man of great vision who also knows that ideas are only as good as their execution.

It was Kalnow – along with President Rob Huntington and VP for Institutional Advancement Jim Troha – who envisioned the possibilities for the university’s lower campus project. Over the summer months and into the fall, the area was completely transformed, following on the heels of the opening of the Saurwein Health & Wellness Center. Creation of a pond and wetland area is the signature piece of the lower campus vision project, with its enhanced aesthetic, academic, environmental and functional elements.

“Visions are great, ideas are great. I’ve had a few of them,” Kalnow said as the university dedicated its new lower campus and pond on Friday, Oct. 26. “What’s just as important is that good ideas come to fruition, that you mold them into something practical. And the execution has to be good.”

Kalnow and Trustee Ralph Talmage were the visionaries and benefactors of the project, which also includes improved parking, new landscaping and lighting. Overall, the lower campus now presents a much more welcoming atmosphere for those who enter from Circular Street. It also provides a pleasant space for students to walk, bike and gather.

Lower Campus Dedication ceremony

During the dedication, the university celebrated the learning potential of the lower campus. Surrounding the pond are more than 5,500 plants and another 1,100 plants and shrubs that complete the area. When the native grasses, sedges and rushes have established themselves, they will provide a more natural-appearing habitat for aquatic and terrestrial wildlife.

“The area will offer the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences opportunities for introducing ecological and environmental concepts to a wide array of students,” said biology professor Dr. Ken Baker, who added that he expects faculty across the board to utilize the space as a teaching resource in creative ways.

 The pond is fed by water running off the Saurwein Health & Wellness Center into the east end mini-retention pond, through the weir and wetland.

The pond and wetland were dedicated in honor of the staff of the National Center for Water Quality Research, including Dr. David Baker, Jack Kramer, Ellen Ewing, Barbara Merryfield, Dr. Kenneth Krieger, Dr. Peter Richards, Nancy Miller, Dr. Aaron Roerdink, Dr. Remegio Confesor and Jake Boehler. The pond recognizes the contributions of deceased aquatic researchers and teachers Dr. Ira Wilson, Dr. Arthur McQuate and Dr. Howard Hintz as well as the honoring aquatic researchers among current and retired science faculty, including Dr. Percy Lilly, Dr. Robert Murray, Dr. Susan Carty, Dr. Ken Baker and Dr. Amy Berger.

Lower Campus Pond

“This pond and wetland will add a new kind of natural area to our campus and will bring expanded opportunities for teaching, learning and research by future scientists to the very doorstep of the NCWQR and science departments at Heidelberg,” David Baker said at the dedication.

Heidelberg’s campus has come a long way from its original 5 acres to 110 acres today, he said. “No previous tree planting effort comes close to what we’ve experienced as part of the lower campus project.”

Baker also said the project support the Academic Comprehensive Campaign for Excellence by encouraging environmental biology research by faculty, staff and students. The project goes beyond the classroom by providing opportunities for direct participation in faculty research.

“Many students work side by side with faculty and staff, and this serves our students well in their subsequent careers,” Baker said.

Indeed, that opportunity draws students to Heidelberg. “The main reason many students come to Heidelberg is the one-on-one faculty interaction,” said senior environmental biology major Susie Daniel, who represented students at the dedication. “The work done (on the lower campus) shows how bonds connect us as a community. … Our beautiful campus is really inviting to us as students.”

Huntington recognized general contractor Thomas & Marker as well as the city of Tiffin, partners on the project. In particular, he thanked Rod Morrison, associate vice president for facilities and engineering, for “connecting all the parties.”