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April 28, 2021

Editor's note: The forest for the trees

I was on campus walking my dog last weekend and was reminded once again just how stunning it is. The flowers are blooming, the grass is greening and the trees are starting to show their true colors.

 

Did you know that MSU is home to more than 20,000 trees — each with its own story and place in Spartan history? I’ve been a student and an employee, and some trees are definitely part of mine.

 

When I was a freshman, there was a beautiful tree that turned into a dazzling display of red in the fall. From my third-floor dormer in the southeast corner of Campbell Hall, it was like living among the vibrant leaves. The tree is still there, though the leaves are now much higher than my old window.

 

There’s a fragrant tree outside my office building that both calms me with its scent while also tickling my allergies. A beautiful, blooming pink tree near the stadium and library bridge never fails to lift my spirits. A large tree near Beaumont Tower with a right-angle crook in one of its branches always catches my eye as does the sprawling and interesting trunk of the one just east of Ag Hall.

 

A few years ago, during a wicked storm, a towering tree I could see from outside my then-office, was toppled and it changed my view. That same storm tried to take out a tree near Linton Hall that became somewhat famous for its resiliency, like all Spartans.

 

I’ve walked around campus so much that the trees feel like old friends. Some of them have been part of the land for more than 300 years. Others, like the one outside of Cowles House, were planted during commemorative celebrations on campus.

 

Did you know that there’s actually a campus tree map that identifies each one? Trees are so much a part of MSU’s roots, and the history is pretty fascinating. Take a look at the beautiful MSUToday feature, The science, stewardship and stories behind MSU’s trees to learn more about our living laboratory campus arboretum.  

 

MSU’s roots are deep, and its branches have a very long reach. Since 1855, we’ve been educating people and sending them out into the world to make a difference. This weekend, we’re sending out a whole new crop of bright and determined grads when they take part in spring commencement.

 

One of those students is Sabrina Maniaci, who majored in construction management. Her roots, beginning with her grandfather who as an Italian immigrant with no money or education, started a construction company. Read her Student view: Following in my family’s footsteps to learn more about her experiences and plans for the future.

 

While roots are important, how we grow is even more so. Stephen Gasteyer, an associate professor of sociology, recently participated in MSU Dialogues, a program for students, faculty and staff that brings together people from different identity groups. He says, “We had the chance to explore not only differences, but also commonalities and our shared desire for a better world — for a society and community that is more just and steps we might take in that direction.” Read his Faculty Voice: Starting the dialogue to learn more about the program and the growth it inspires.

 

The university will never stop growing. While we cannot change the past, we must always seek to do what’s right and find solutions to foster a safer campus community. Yesterday, MSU released an important strategic plan to address sexual assault prevention and response. I know that all Spartans are committed to doing all they can to support this initiative.

 

No matter your roots or where you are planted, make sure you never stop growing. Turn toward the sun, replenish your soul and always keep branching out for better tomorrows. Spartans Will.

 

Lisa Mulcrone 

Editor, MSUToday

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