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IU campus tree dedication process important to both loved ones, university

Dec. 2, 2015

Passers-by might not notice the small plaque underneath the newly planted red maple tree near the east entry of the Global and International Studies Building, deep in the heart of campus.

But it’s an important detail for IU Distinguished Professor and Chancellor’s Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences Linda Smith and her family members. The tree was planted in honor of her late husband.

Linda Smith with tree

IU professor Linda Smith stands near the red maple tree planted on the IU campus, honoring her late husband, Maurice "Moe" Smith. | PHOTO BY CHAZ MOTTINGER, IU COMMUNICATIONS

Maurice “Moe” Smith worked for IU for many years, both for the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and for University Human Resources. Before his retirement in 2013, he served as director of employee relations.

“It was my great fortune to work for Moe for 15 years. He always treated me as an equal and as a friend,” human resources communications specialist Mika Van Vooren said. “We chose the Global and International Studies Building for his memorial tree because the site represents his global travels and interests. I thought about how his wife, children and grandchildren could enjoy a walk through the Arboretum on their way to see the tree. The east entry is a fitting location for the tree -- it provides protection for employees as they enter the building, just as Moe did in his role at Human Resources.”

A dedication ceremony held Nov. 19 was attended by many of Smith’s colleagues, friends and loved ones.

Donations of trees such as the one honoring Smith aren’t uncommon across campus, IU landscape architect Mia Williams said. A $1,500 donation to the university’s tree donor program covers the purchase and planting of a tree, as well as a heavy-duty plaque featuring the scientific and common name of the tree species, the date it was planted and up to three lines of donor-provided text.

Trees are planted twice a year, in spring and fall. Donors can request a specific species or a location, and the university works to accommodate those requests as much as possible, Williams said.

IU doesn’t have a specific protocol for a planting ceremony, but donors are encouraged to host a personal gathering once the tree and plaque are in place.

And while it’s not clear just how many of the approximately 12,000 trees covering the Bloomington campus were donated, Williams said her office is working to remedy that by creating a memorial tree inventory.

“I often get to speak with donors about what these trees mean to them, and their friends and families,” she said. “One of the purposes of creating this inventory is to ensure the continued care of these trees as lasting memorials for future generations.”

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