University of Dayton Chapel in the spring

Campus in Bloom

By Eric F. Spina

As I strolled up the walkway to my office in St. Mary’s Hall, I spotted a groundskeeper applying mulch and edging a flower bed overflowing with brightly colored tulips and daffodils.

The sun had barely risen, but the work of keeping our 400-acre campus beautiful starts early. Shortly, the plaza will overflow with students rushing to their first classes, but, for now, it’s quiet except for the whir of the sprinklers. Later, when I glance out my office window mid-morning, I’ll spot tour guides showing off our impeccably maintained campus to prospective students and their families. Talk about a great first impression.

Our grounds crew, who take such pride in their work, are some of our unsung heroes. They quietly plant and prune, creating a tranquil urban sanctuary just two miles from the city’s center. It’s a stunning backdrop for our educational mission of nurturing young minds, and I’m constantly taken aback by its beauty.

What does it take for the University of Dayton to blossom in the spring? I asked a colleague to do a little research.

Imagine applying between 1,200 and 1,400 yards of mulch and planting more than 12,000 tulip bulbs and 2,500 geraniums, petunias and other annuals. Add in the upkeep of the greenspace, the lawns in the student neighborhoods and more than 2,000 trees — elms, oaks, maples, sweet gums, dogwoods, red buds, pines, spruce and more.

I applaud our groundskeepers for keeping the campus so vibrant and idyllic.

Every day, these workers send a powerful message: This is a special place, a sacred place.

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