6:30 a.m.: The day begins. Landscape and housekeeping crews start early, clocking in at the Physical Plant offices before heading into their morning meeting, during which they get their assignments for the day. The crew spends 15-20 minutes each morning talking about anything that’s happening in their lives—personal and professional—before heading out to beautify campus. 1:00 p.m.: Every Friday, the crew (Zach Foyt pictured here) tends to the graveyard on campus, the burial site for many presidents and some former faculty. This spring, the grounds crew will re-landscape the space. “There’s a lot of history there,” says Kevin Mercer, grounds and landscape manager. “It’s an important place.” 1:30 p.m.: Twice a week through the spring and summer, Cory Parks mows all the entrances to campus—so the first views of The Hill for students, faculty, alumni, and families are views of beauty. 2:00 p.m.: Ann Cherry, Denison’s horticulturist, tends to the gardens outside Monomoy Place. Her job is to keep flower beds across campus seasonal, welcoming, and weed-free. 2:30 p.m.: A crew member is often assigned to check irrigation on the practice fields. Here, Tracey Ross, who was with Denison for more than two decades before a recent move to Florida, checks up on the men’s soccer practice field.
An Award-Winning Crew
In October, Denison’s grounds crew won national recognition for their work in sustainably maintaining and beautifying the college’s campus. The Professional Grounds Management Society bestowed its Grand Award and the inaugural Environmental Green Star Award upon Kevin Mercer, Denison’s grounds and landscape manager. “I always try to focus on the little details of the grounds and equipment before anything big can escalate,” says Mercer. “I was taught never to take anything for granted and appreciate everyone that has helped you along the way. I love this business.”
Jean Preston ’55 remembers fondly her time as a young Denison student and the personal impact of that beautiful hilltop in Granville. Preston wanted future generations of students to enjoy the beauty of The Hill for years to come, so in 2004, Preston and her husband “Moe” Preston established the Preston Horticultural Fund, which supports the maintenance of Denison’s grounds—and every hanging basket, budding tree, and bright flower the grounds crew can dream up. Preston is particularly proud of that crew and what they have been able to accomplish with her gift. “Kevin is so knowledgeable and has done a lot to improve so many aspects of the campus,” says Preston. “He and his crew do it all with enthusiasm and hard work.”