Greetings from North Central College!
The start of summer makes me miss the buzz of activity that’s ever-present during the academic year. But this time of year provides an opportunity to appreciate the campus in different ways, such as the role that nature plays around us.
A fun fact about North Central is that our campus is an accredited arboretum. The College officially earned the designation in 2019 from ArbNet, an interactive, global community of arboreta coordinated by the Morton Arboretum. The College’s Level II arboretum status means our campus is home to more than 100 species and varieties of trees, including a century-old sycamore just south of Old Main planted as a gift from the Class of 1921, and a young tamarack—a threatened native tree species in Illinois—planted just a few years ago next to our community garden visible from Chicago Avenue.
You may notice silver tags hanging from trees on campus. This is part of our student-led tree inventory—a system for numbering and identifying the campus tree population, which helps facilitate ongoing tree maintenance and education.
Maintaining an urban arboretum goes beyond beautification; it’s part of the college’s broader commitment to sustainability. As it relates to our physical campus, sustainability factors into nearly every decision we make—from the methods and materials we use for construction, to choosing native plantings that require less water and minimal maintenance.
As a pillar of the local community, it’s important for North Central College to lead by example when it comes to environmental sustainability. We recognize the critical role environmental sustainability plays in the lives of our students and for their career preparation. This also happens to be an area of particular interest for me, since prior to arriving at North Central in 2013 my professional experience was in energy efficiency and solar technology.
Environmental studies is one of the college’s fastest growing majors. Within the major, students can focus on sustainable business, science, or society and the environment. A big part of their education comes through real world experiences—whether examining environmental justice issues in Chicago, creating a virtual arboretum for rare plants in the Virgin Islands, or conducting a walkability study focused on Naperville, as a group of student researchers will do this summer with their professor.
I’m proud of the work our students and faculty are doing in this area, and of the various ways in which North Central serves as a steward of the environment, right here on our campus and around the world.
I invite you to learn more about how we are “Going Cardinal Green” in the Spring 2022 edition of the North Central College Magazine by visiting northcentralcollege.edu/magazine.