Alumnus Wayne DeFeo ’80, ’82 MS volunteered his time, energy and sweat equity to design and plant the flowering trees, evergreens and flower beds in time for the 1996 Alumni Weekend dedication of Alumni Green. “All the trees that were picked, I’d seen in courses I took with the late Biology Professor Marie Kuhnen,” recalls DeFeo, who earned degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies. “I worked closely with her in planning and designing the Green as a space to remember and respect alumni.” He notes that it was Kuhnen, a fellow Red Hawk who graduated in 1941, who insisted on planting the Douglas fir tree in the middle of the Green.
More than two decades later, DeFeo, the owner of environmental consulting firm DeFeo Associates, has again volunteered to help plan the iconic campus green. Alumni Green is being excavated so that new utility lines can be installed as part of the University’s extensive College Hall renovation project – when restored, it will be bigger and more welcoming than ever.
“A final design is being coordinated with our landscape architect,” explains Vice President for University Facilities Shawn Connolly. “Representatives from University Facilities, University Advancement and the landscape architect’s firm have met with alumni to solicit their desires and ideas of what a newly renovated Alumni Green would look like and contain.”
“I’m thrilled to be part of this process. I’m on the design committee and have so far given input in writing along with ideas for trees and plantings,” DeFeo says. While final plans have yet to be drawn up or approved, he hopes that they might include more native plantings, so that Alumni Green could become a real learning space for students. He also hopes that new flowering plants might maintain the original red and white Red Hawk-inspired color scheme.
Ron Naples ’81 recalls planning the original space when he was incoming president of the Alumni Association. “Many, many alumni were instrumental in launching the concept, which represents the alumni presence on campus,” he says. “We decided on the park concept because it would be a place where students would congregate.”
Naples, a professor at the New York University Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism, is also involved in plans for restoring and enhancing Alumni Green. He hopes that ultimately Alumni Green will include more flowering plants and bushes and a water element.
According to Connolly, while the Alumni Green restoration is expected to be completed in September 2019, in parallel with the renovation of College Hall, some of its sections may be restored earlier.
Alumni Green was made possible originally through the generous bequests of Barbara A. Wolf ’28 and Margaret R. Gerdinick ’38, ’49 MA and has been supported subsequently through additional gifts in honor or memory of alumni and faculty. If you would like to support the Alumni Green, you can make your gift online. For more information, contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 973-655-4141 or firstname.lastname@example.org.