Walk across campus and soak in the harmonious surroundings. Tom Succop ’58 says there is “a relationship between the open spaces and the buildings” that can be felt in every part of campus. He would know: His work and philanthropic efforts have made it that way.
Succop’s passion for outdoor spaces can be traced back to being raised on a farm and his grandfather’s and father’s love of trees. In the mid-1970s, the maple and elm trees on campus were plagued with disease and age, which is when then-president Martin Carovano turned to Succop, a skilled landscape architect, for help. Over the next three decades, Succop’s guidance helped transform College Hill by diversifying campus flora and introducing hardy evergreens, flowering ornamental species, and new varieties of shade trees, as well as visually uniting the Kirkland and Hamilton landscapes.
In 2001, Succop and his wife, JoAnn, established an endowment to fulfill his vision for the campus to become an accredited arboretum. He says it “was a way of signifying the importance of our environmental education, of our commitment to sustainability, and to our environment.” Years later when his classmates celebrated their 60th reunion in 2018, they were so inspired by Succop’s efforts that they designated their gifts to expand the arboretum fund from supporting the planning, design, and maintenance of the College arboretum to more broadly supporting green spaces on campus.
The arboretum’s collections, educational goals, and offerings make it an intentionally unique experience for all. Over the last two decades, those involved with the College’s famed Root Glen have worked in tandem with those dedicating their time to the arboretum. “The two aren’t in competition with each other, but rather work together,” Succop says. He also notes that the programming and events offered through the arboretum’s advisory committee ensure that students, faculty, and people from surrounding communities can learn from the arboretum while enjoying it, too.
When Succop reflects on his involvement with the campus over the years, he thinks about what a pleasant experience the campus is for those who find their way here.
“I’m most proud that there’s a continued effort to keep the campus beautiful,” he says.