Sculpting a stronger UD

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Photo courtesy of Peter Burleigh

Arriving back to campus in August, I was encouraged and delighted by the changes I noticed. As someone who spent her past two summers working in land maintenance, I tend to notice landscaping improvements, and there were several this semester at UD. 

UD may not be famous for its picturesque campus, but the facilities department works diligently year-round to maintain the beauty of UD. 

“One of the things we experienced in the late spring was a storm that came through and broke a lot of tree branches and hurt a lot of trees around campus,” Director of Facilities Jerry Haba said. 

So, the facilities department consulted with a tree company to trim the faulty branches and turn them into mulch. This mulch was used to cover the bases of the trees around campus, which include varieties of oak, maple and crape-myrtle, among others. 

Mulching reduces the amount of water needed by trees and returns nutrients to the soil, optimizing both the financial and environmental gain of the storm’s effects. 

“I am very focused on conservation, on putting out the proper amount of water,” Haba said. “We have a computerized irrigation system here so we can monitor which fields are getting irrigated.”

This past spring, the heavy rains caused some of the irrigation lines to break. Fortunately, Haba and another facilities team member are licensed irrigators and have the expertise to fix most of these issues themselves. In addition, several areas were repaved with concrete and asphalt by Anderson Paving. 

“We always do a couple of bids to make sure that they’re giving us the best price, staying competitive,” Haba said. 

Facilities have been busy with water diversion projects continuously these past few months, first by the swimming pool and now on the opposite side of Maher Athletic Center. Water diversion helps to prevent erosion and mud overflow, which had been happening at the pool. 

These landscaping projects require expert planning and execution in order to be effective and long-lasting. 

Facilities also repaired the running trails in the woods on campus and the grass area next to Cardinal Farrell Hall. Haba said that they plan to develop a sort of “outside classroom” on Carpenter Lawn. 

Through the generosity of a donor, this fall they will plant a maple tree near the Margaret Jonsson Theatre.

Haba also offered some (literally) practical steps that the UD community can take to help preserve the natural beauty of the landscape. 

“One of the things that [people] can do is to stay on the hard surfaces, don’t cut paths.” 

As someone who has seen and repaired the damage caused by trail-cutting in my own conservation work, I concur with Haba. 

The facilities team deserves to be recognized for their tireless efforts, which is why I chose to inquire about their summer projects. The work  these people do behind the scenes matters to everyone. 

Without our facilities and custodial teams, we couldn’t function as a school. As we receive a holistic education here at UD, we ought to appreciate those who shape our day-to-day experience just as much as anyone else here. 

Haba and the facilities staff are contributing, integral members of the UD community. We should all respect the dignity of their work as much as that of our classmates and teachers. 

“We’re always looking to design and improve. We’re always focusing on making the best of what we have,” Haba said. As a Catholic higher education system, we should strive to do the same.

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