Chancellor Susan Elrod brings more life to campus with tree planting ceremony

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Staff Writer

With sunny fall weather as the backdrop, three winter king hawthorn trees were planted in the green between Wiekamp Hall and the Administration Building at 11:30 AM on Wednesday, October 9.

These trees will be joining other winter king hawthorns on campus. The trees can be identified in part by the white flowers that bloom in spring and red berries in fall.

This was the idea of IU South Bend’s new Chancellor Susan Elrod, inspired by a passage she shared at her installation speech on September 10.

The quote was from The Hidden Life of Trees, which Elrod repeated at the tree planting ceremony. The quote emphasizes the similarities between trees and people in their social relationships and need to support, and be supported by, others.

Elrod also read another quote, this time from the book The Overstory, recommended to her by IU South Bend professor of sustainability studies, Krista Bailey.

“The sole remaining chestnut tree though goes on flowering but it’s blooms have no more blooms to answer them. Yet still this tree has a secret tucked into the thin living cylinder beneath its bark.

Its cells obey an ancient formula; keep still, wait. Something in the lone survivor knows that even the ironclad law of now can be outlasted. There’s work to do. Star work, but earth-bound all the same,” Elrod quoted.

The first ceremonial shovels full of soil, using shovels painted with ‘IU’, were placed by Elrod herself, as well as several members of the Advisory Board, Chair of the Advisory Board Phil Newbold, SGA president Rodger Pinto, Associate Director of Retention Tabitha Kingsbury, and others.

The shovels were then handed over to students and members of the community to participate in planting the trees.

A representative of the Potawatomi had been invited to the ceremony, and had accepted, however due to scheduling conflicts could not make the ceremony.

Elrod stated, “As they would say though, ‘The request was honored, and they are here in spirit.”

Elrod mentioned that there will be a separate celebration planned to involve the Potawatomi to be announced at a later date.

“This campus, this quad, is so beautiful. I thought, why not just use this as a backdrop for celebrating how we can come together,” Elrod said in an interview.

With a bachelor’s in biology and a doctorate in genetics, Elrod is a lover of science and nature, intending to bring these passions to her work here at IU South Bend. When asked about further planting on campus Elrod revealed upcoming plans.

“What we are going to do is create a more visible arboretum style map of the quad, and the trees that will be available online, and we will be putting labels on trees, too,” explained Elrod.

There is a tree committee, which includes Professor Bailey, who are involved in the planning and development of this arboretum initiative. A more detailed account of this plan for campus will be revealed at a later date.


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