Freshman Charlee Hrubesky said the simplicity of the nature on IU’s campus is what makes it so beautiful.
“There is nothing more beautiful than listening to the murmur of the Jordan River after a heavy rain or admiring the lush greenery on walks to class,” Hrubesky said.
Hrubesky is not the only one who thinks that the campus is beautiful. IU was voted second by readers in USA Today’s 10 Best Beautiful College Campuses poll.
According to USA Today’s description, “The verdant grounds of Indiana University Bloomington boast miles of cycling and walking trails winding past a collection of Art Deco and Art Nouveau buildings, many built from locally sourced limestone.”
The University of Mississippi was voted first, and other winners included Pepperdine University, Kenyon College and Colgate University.
As part of maintaining the campus’s landscape, there are 41 service maintenance staff members in the Campus Site and Landscape Services Division, as well as a landscape architecture crew. One of the members of the crew is Mia Williams, the university landscape architect for all eight campuses. Williams oversees the landscape services crew and landscaping projects and makes sure that projects are kept in line with the campus master plan.
“It involves being out in the field with a hard hat on and high-visibility vest on and working in conference rooms,” Williams said. “It’s incredibly fun, stimulating and interesting.”
Within the landscape services department is a grounds department and a construction department.
The grounds department creates flower beds, prunes trees and grows the annual flowers, while the construction department focuses on concrete, masonry and drainage needs.
Williams said part of her job is looking at the long-term vision for the campus instead of getting caught up in the detail issues that come up. That included one morning when all of the plants at the Sample Gates were destroyed, and her crews that work on the nursery aspect were devastated, she said.
“I said, ‘let’s take a step back, let’s go to 50 different flower beds and take the flowers to recreate it,’” Williams said. “I don’t know that anyone other than people who worked in Bryan and maybe Franklin Hall were even aware. While all that effort is going into the day-to-day stuff, I’m someone who is looking at the bigger picture.”
Williams spends an enormous amount of time thinking about what makes IU’s campus beautiful and why students say they knew they wanted to go to IU after visiting the campus based off of the look and feel. The natural environment at IU, despite a university campus with so many people on it not being a natural environment, has been very much respected, she said.
“We’ve done such a good job of remembering where we came from,” Williams said. “I think a lot about what the trees mean to campus. If you see a large tree, you know that tree has been allowed to grow to get to that size and it’s done that because the place hasn’t been disturbed.”
Williams said she thinks people feel settled and at home because of the natural feel of campus.
“I think it makes you feel like the place is safe, like it’s stable,” Williams said. “I think it’s subliminal, that it touches us in a way we’re not totally aware of.”
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