“What a beautiful campus.” We’ve all heard it before.
It’s no secret that UR is known for its beauty. From the overflowing beds of red and white tulips to the nearly spotless grounds, “beautiful campus” hardly does it justice. Although the average passers-by may only start to notice the crisp and clean batches of color across campus as the days get warmer, the planning far precedes the early April product.
The landscaping team plants bulbs in the fall in preparation for the following spring, and uses the same number of flowers from year to year while trying out new types and locations. Leaders of the landscaping team, Aaron Abbott, Bill Chappell, and Michael Torquato agreed, “We try to do new and interesting things to excite the community. They remember more than we do.” Of course, the biggest push comes in early May in preparation for Commencement. The landscaping team of 21 members pulls up bulbs and replaces them with fresh summer flowers, just in time for the onslaught of visitors and countless “photo ops”. When asked what areas of campus they focus on the most, “It’s all important,” Torquato says.
And you can tell. Yes, the main entrance looks beautiful, but so do the hidden walkways, the underused paths, and the entrances to behind-the-scenes office buildings. In fact, the landscaping team is responsible for the maintenance of 378 acres that make up the University of Richmond campus. This includes 170 acres of turf, 21 acres of parking lots, 2.5 acres of walkways, 16 formal flowerbeds, and Westhampton Lake.
But what many people may not realize is that the team that makes the UR campus beautiful is the same team that keeps it safe in the winter by constantly clearing roads and sidewalks of snow. From hot days to very cold mornings, they show up ready to help. Each member brings their own talents and skills to a physically hard and taxing job that is usually behind the scenes. In severe weather, additional facilities staff are brought in to help shovel or plow in the early morning hours to ensure that the University can open.
The team’s ability to change quickly from putting salt down to mowing the lawns comes from their dedication to UR, their work, and each other. As the landscape leadership team states, “We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t enjoy the camaraderie and the satisfaction of a job well done.”