Visitors to UMR no longer follow a beaten path to campus – and the university couldn’t be happier. The once homely, well-worn passage known as University Drive was transformed this year into an attractive entryway that welcomes travelers from U.S. Interstate 44, guiding them into the heart of campus.
Formerly known as Missouri Highway E, University Drive was given a much-needed face-lift this summer in partnership with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). Extensive landscaping, including three rows of ginko biloba and zelkova serrata trees and a variety of shrubbery and flowers, lines the main entrance to the UMR campus. Both sides of the boulevard feature widened sidewalks and enhanced lighting, providing safer passage for pedestrians. Vehicular traffic control has improved as well, with two lanes guiding traffic in each direction, plus a center turning lane.
Although the enhancement project was a collaboration between UMR and MoDOT, the city of Rolla was instrumental in the planning because of their cooperation with needed street closings, says Ted Ruth, assistant director of engineering services and construction management in UMR’s physical facilities department.
“The improvements beautify the city of Rolla, not just the UMR campus,” Ruth says. “We see these improvements as an extension of the city of Rolla’s beautification efforts.”
UMR received national recognition for campus beauty and excellence in grounds maintenance from the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) in November 2004. UMR received a Grand Award – the highest honor awarded by the society – in the university and college grounds category.
The department received two additional thumbs up this year from two national landscaping magazines. Landscape Superintendent and Maintenance Professional and Landscape Management magazines featured UMR’s landscaping and maintenance work in their August 2005 and September 2005 issues, respectively.
“The landscaping crew has really stepped-up and embraced the improvements of the campus landscape,” says Melissa Keeney, UMR landscape designer. “From manufacturing our own compost to adding color beds, we have worked hard to achieve these changes.”
With 14 full-time staff members, UMR landscape services department designs, installs and maintains all of the landscaping on the 280-acre UMR campus, including lawns, athletic fields, ornamental beds and planters, and trees. The staff plants and maintains grasses, annual and perennial plants, ornamental shrubs, trees, and a variety of deciduous plants and evergreens. In addition to traditional grounds maintenance, landscape services keeps high-traffic areas and sidewalks free of trash.