The University of Idaho was recently ranked No. 30 on Great Value Colleges” list of 35 Great Value Colleges with Beautiful Campuses.
Charles Zillinger, director of Landscape and Exterior Services, said it”s an honor to be featured on this list, and he”s glad this aspect of the university is getting attention.
“It is always an honor to be selected for any achievement, and for the campus to be noted for its landscape and outdoor activity potential is certainly a bonus for the U of I,” Zillinger said.
Zillinger said over the years, a lot of effort has been put into building and maintaining campus.
ASUI President Max Cowan said a campus that is aesthetically pleasing provides a real benefit to students. He said there is plenty of evidence that attractive architecture and public spaces have a positive impact on student morale and helps the university”s image.
Cowan said making a good first impression is key to attracting new students, and having an attractive campus is a big part of that.
“First impressions mean a lot,” Cowan said. “They change the way people interact with the university and with each other, and I think that making a strong first impression is vital to serving our students well.”
Zillinger said the Administration Lawn and the Academic Mall are two focal points of the university, and so receive dedicated maintenance and enhancements.
One of the most recent enhancements to the admin lawn are the Hello Walk Steps, built in 2011. He said the university has been working to replace aging stairs across campus to improve safety, ease of maintenance and beauty.
Zillinger said many landscaping projects are less noticeable, but no less important – for example, the university is working on upgrading the roughly 50-year-old irrigation system on admin lawn.
He said this project, completed in phases over the last six years, is slated to be completed this summer. He said this will allow for more efficient use of water, while also keeping the admin lawn lush and attractive.
Zillinger said on the Academic Mall, the courtyard between Brink and Phinney Halls was recently redone. A decade ago, the space that is now a courtyard was a small parking lot. Though various construction projects on the nearby buildings delayed its completion until 2015, today Brink and Phinney Halls have a landscaped courtyard, which will also be visible from the soon-to-be completed Integrated Research and Innovation Center (IRIC) next door.
Zillinger said new landscaping is also planned for the IRIC, including a green roof section on the building and a landscaped water retention area on the grounds.
Zillinger said various studies show that an attractive campus landscape can be a determining factor for students and faculty when deciding where to study or work, and he hopes that appearing on this list will bring positive attention to the university.
“My hope is that this rating will be read by many students and their families when they are making a decision on which school to attend, and this ranking may help induce more students to attend the UI,” he said.
Cowan said that while having a beautiful campus is a nice point of discussion, UI is more than just a pretty place – it also provides a superior quality of education.
Cowan said the university is a vibrant community, an affordable place to study, an institution with a mission to ensure every student has access to a quality education, and a place that provides one of the best educations in the region.
“It really sends the message that we”re an institution of higher learning who takes our land grant mission in this state seriously, who recognize our importance and our history, and all of that, I think, greatly improves the quality of the student experience here at the University of Idaho,” Cowan said.
Ryan Locke can be reached at email@example.com