By Caitlin Schudalla
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma celebrated Arbor Day with a free public picnic and student tree planting Wednesday in David A. Burr Park on the OU campus.
The annual event focused volunteer tree planters on the grounds of the university’s College of Continuing Education, just south of the dormitories. Among the 75 trees to be planted was the 1,000th tree planted by student Arbor Day volunteers.
OU President David Boren, OU Student Association President Hannah Morris and University Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Clarke Stroud gave remarks.
Molly Shi Boren and members of the OU Board of Regents were in attendance.
More than 200 guests assembled in the park to enjoy food provided by OU Catering. The OU Jazz Ensemble performed live music preceding the event.
“OU has a tradition of campus beautification which goes back to the university’s inception,” Morris said. “Much of the work and expansion over the past 17 years can be attributed to the perseverence and loving hands of Molly Shi Boren, who understands the importance of beautiful green spaces.”
According to David Boren, the leadership of his wife and collaboration with landscaping experts has seen the planting of 22,000 trees on the OU campus since the Borens’ arrival at OU.
In his remarks, David Boren called tree planting a “truly selfless act,” as the planting of a tree is not about immediate results for the planters but about benefiting future generations with the shade and greenery it will provide.
“The thousandth tree will be a water oak, which is one of the biggest, tallest and longest-living trees. It will live for at least 100 years and will stand as a great symbol for what we do here each year,” Boren said.
Mrs. Boren humbly accepted the praise of her efforts and contributions to landscape-centered events like the Arbor Day picnic and explained that her reason for making campus beautification such a priority has as much to do with students’ and faculty members’ future as it does with their present.
“I believe one’s environment has a huge impact on them, and we’ve had countless students and faculty say that the landscaping was a major part of their decision to come to OU. I believe it also helps make people more productive and consider this beatiful space sacred ground,” Molly Shi Boren said.
“I also believe that if students have a public space like this that is beatiful, they will be involved in public parks and gardens in the communities they join in the future because, through their experience here, they will appreciate the importance these spaces have on a community’s quality of life,” Molly Shi Boren said.
Caitlin Schudalla 366-3541 cschudalla@ normantranscript.com