OBU Arboretum Earns National Accreditation from ArbNet

June 30, 2017

OBU has been awarded a level I accreditation by the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and The Morton Arboretum, for achieving particular standards of professional practices deemed important for arboreta and botanic gardens. The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta at various levels of development, capacity and professionalism.

OBU is also now recognized as an accredited arboretum in the Morton Register of Arboreta, a database of the world’s arboreta and gardens dedicated to woody plants. Additionally, OBU is the only body to be accredited within the state of Oklahoma.

The OBU arboretum began collecting trees in 2002, planting 50 different species in an area between the university’s first campus building that opened in 1915, Shawnee Hall, and the main administrative building, Thurmond Hall. The arboretum has dedicated irrigation to all trees, and all are mulched and tagged. The university seeks to help students develop an appreciation for trees and shrubs, participate in planting and caring for them, and then take that knowledge with them upon graduating.

The arboretum has since expanded to include the entire 226 acre campus with 134 different species of trees and a database of more than 300 trees and shrubs. OBU’s collection includes many unique trees, such as a Weeping Bald Cypress, Giant Leafed Redbud, Contorted Filbert, William Penn Barberries, Netleaf Oak, Turbinella Oak, Crow Pillow Tree, Tree Lilac, Persian Parrot Tree, Tamarix, Seaside Alder, Chitalpa, Dawn Redwood and an American Elm that is a seedling of the Survivor Tree from the Oklahoma City bombing.

ArbNet is an interactive, collaborative, international community of arboreta. ArbNet facilitates the sharing of knowledge, experience, and other resources to help arboreta meet their institutional goals and works to raise professional standards through the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program, sponsored and coordinated by The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, in cooperation with American Public Gardens Association and Botanic Gardens Conservation International. Standards include planning, governance, public access, programming and tree science, planting and conservation.

Examples of institutions that may be accredited arboreta include botanical gardens, arboreta historic properties, college campuses, cemeteries, zoos, city tree collections, corporate campuses, senior living center properties, nature reserves and municipal parks.

With this accreditation, OBU’s Campus Tree Advisory Committee is well on its way to completing the goals that formed the committee, assisting OBU in its efforts to become an accredited Arboretum and to be recognized as a Tree Campus USA. These achievements are part of the goals set forth in “OBU 2020,” a university-wide strategic plan enacted in 2010.

Current committee members include Dr. John McWilliams, faculty representative; Tom Terry, community member; Alexa Tininenko, student representative; George Haines, director of facilities management; Berry Nichols, grounds and athletic fields supervisor; Lisa Hair, groundskeeper – gardener; and Stacey Foster, committee secretary.

Haines is pleased with this accreditation and is thankful for the hard work of many members of his team in caring for the university’s arboretum.

“ArbNet accreditation is an important step in reaching our goal of being recognized as one of the top arboretums in the state,” he said. “Accreditation means we have met a rigorous set of professional standards that arboreta world-wide have to achieve. As part of the ArbNet world-wide community of arboreta, we can share knowledge, experience, and other resources to help us improve and grow.”

The committee is continuing to work toward meeting standards for Level II accreditation, as well as working toward recognition as a Tree Campus USA. They hope to achieve both by next year.

View OBU's entry and accreditation status with ArbNet.