Southwestern University has again been honored with Tree Campus Higher Education® recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management. This is the fourth consecutive year that SU has earned the distinction.

“Tree Campuses and their students set examples for not only their student bodies but the surrounding communities showcasing how trees create a healthier environment,” says Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Because of Southwestern’s participation, air will be purer, water cleaner, and students and faculty will be surrounded by the shade and beauty trees provide.”

The Tree Campus Higher Education program honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals. SU achieved the title by meeting Tree Campus Higher Education’s five standards, which include maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance, and a student service-learning project. Currently, there are 403 campuses across the U.S. with this recognition.

Since its founding in 1873, Southwestern University has taken great pride in its beautiful campus and commitment to historic preservation. The Tree Campus Higher Education honor is just one of several accolades that recognize the institution’s dedication to establishing and promoting a sustainable campus community. It is also a testament to the hard work of the Facilities Management team and student ecological initiatives.

The Tree Campus Higher Education requirements are documented on SU’s sustainability webpage. The university, however, has gone above and beyond those requirements. For example, says Sustainability Coordinator Veronica Johnson, “Last November, we planted a 22-year-old live oak next to the story stone in front of the library for our Arbor Day Observance even though that requirement for recognition was waived last year due to COVID-19.” 

The Arbor Day Foundation, a million-member nonprofit conservation and education organization with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees, has helped campuses throughout the country plant thousands of trees, and Tree Campus Higher Education colleges and universities invested more than $51 million in campus forest management last year. This work directly supports the Arbor Day Foundation’s Time for Trees initiative—an unprecedented effort to plant 100 million trees in forests and communities and inspire 5 million tree planters by 2022. Last year, Tree Campus Higher Education schools collectively planted 39,178 trees and engaged 81,535 tree planters, helping the foundation work toward these critical goals.