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Jim Coffey Archives - Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability at Wake Forest

Posts Tagged ‘Jim Coffey’

Students clean-up campus during Spring Greek Work Day

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Photo by De'Noia Woods, Photography intern

Teams of students spread out across the wooded areas of campus on March 20, equipped with black gardening gloves, a knowledgeable landscaping services staff member and a goal: beautify the campus while reducing the risk of fire hazard. The more than 100 students who participated in this year’s Spring Work Day represented many of the university’s Greek organizations as well as the newly rebranded CHARGE Emerging Leaders program (formerly LEAD).

Twice each year, as part of the Adopt-an-Area Program, students gather to clear fallen limbs and trees from wooded areas on campus or to plant flowering bulbs to increase campus aesthetics. All wood gathered is ground up and used as mulch for the many landscaping projects throughout the year.

This year’s efforts centered on the woods lining the Reynolda Rd. entrance and the perimeter of the new LEED- designed Welcome Center in anticipation of the ribbon cutting ceremony on March 22.

The Adopt-an-Area program began more than a decade ago when Jim Coffey, Director of Landscaping Services, and Mike Ford, Associate Dean of Campus Life, teamed up to involve students in campus beautification efforts. According to Coffey, the program fulfills two needs – members of Greek organizations fulfill service requirements for their organizations and the landscaping staff receives a huge surge of labor to accomplish very time and energy intensive tasks – but the true value is immeasurable.

“If you are going to live here and be educated here, you ought to have some involvement in the community. You end up building memories and as I recall from my college days – college really is about the fellowship and the memories,” Coffey said.

By Caitlin Brooks, Communications and Outreach Intern

Faces of Sustainability: Jim Coffey

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Though his daily duties change with the seasons, one element remains constant for Director of Landscaping Services, Jim Coffey – he’s always busy. Coffey, who celebrates his 25th year with the university this year, has assembled a stellar team of landscaping gurus over the years. Together, they’ve guided the university’s evolution into the park-like landscape so frequently cited by prospective students as a selling point for Wake Forest.

“Each spring I walk around campus and get goose bumps because I can see how the landscape has changed,” Coffey said.

Coffey’s appreciation for the natural environment was instilled in him at a young age by grandparents who loved gardening. As he grew, so did his love of landscaping. Twenty-five years ago, just three years after graduating with a bachelor of science in agriculture, Coffey joined the university’s landscaping team in their former offices – an old barn with a wood stove and no bathrooms.

He stuck with the rugged conditions and early hours (during the summers, the crews may arrive before 6 a.m. to beat the Carolina heat) and became instrumental not only in the continuing growth of the university’s landscape, but in the fledgling sustainability movement as well.

When the university began its recycling efforts in 1990, Coffey worked with students to manage the new program. Two decades later, the university diverts over 30 percent of its waste from landfills and has hired a Waste Reduction and Recycling Manager to work on the program full-time.

In addition to serving as the long-standing staff advisor for SEAC, the student environmental action group on campus, Coffey takes great pride in the Adopt an Area program on campus. Coffey worked with leaders of various Greek organizations on campus to arrange a campus adoption and clean-up program. Each spring and fall, members of these organizations turn out to beautify the campus, alongside landscaping staff.

When he’s not actively working toward a more sustainable future with the university’s students, Coffey dons different caps to perform a dizzying array of administrative and managerial tasks including administrating intra-campus moves and many aspects of special events on campus. His work may also take him to Graylyn, a university rental property, or even the President’s House.

Though Coffey cites variety as one of his favorite aspects of his job, the joy of planting remains close to his heart. Many of his most cherished accomplishments have involved national media attention for the university’s meticulously cared for grounds. In addition to high-profile exposure during the Presidential debates in 1988 and 2000, the team received the Professional Grounds Management Society and Landscape Management Magazine’s 2004 “Grand Award.”

Summarizing Coffey’s approach to working with the natural beauty that makes the Wake Forest campus so unique, he said “We see ourselves as artists — we add a little more paint to the canvas each year.”

By Caitlin Brooks, Communications and Outreach Intern

A Short History: the “Mag Quad”

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

A short history of the Southern Magnolias on Manchester Plaza:

In 1947 while visiting the old campus, Dr. Walter Raphael Wiley (BS 1929, BS Med. 1930) and his wife, Monnie Louise McDaniel Wiley learned of the impending move of the University to Winston-Salem. Mrs. Wiley wanted to establish a symbolic bridge between the old and new campuses.

Being an avid gardener and loving the magnolias on the old campus, she had her nephew, Robert Earl Williford, collect seeds from the magnolia trees on the old campus. Mr. Williford enlisted the aid of Dr. Budd Smith, professor of biology, and the seeds were mailed to the Wileys in Chesterfield, SC. Mrs. Wiley planted the seeds in a filled-in swimming pool on their property.

In 1956 when construction of the college buildings in Winston-Salem was underway, the magnolia trees in Chesterfield were about 5 feet tall. Since 1947 when the seeds were planted, it had taken three transplanting to establish good root systems and have the trees ready to move to the new campus.

The administration, then housed at Graylyn, graciously accepted Mrs. Wiley’s offer to donate the trees. She and her son, Walter R. Wiley, JR. balled the trees, put them in the back of a large station wagon, and drove them to Winston-Salem. They left the trees, approximately 20 of them, with the nursery/landscaping department on the new campus where she said “we unloaded them onto a large muddy hill.” The Trees were planted a week later. The trees were planted a week later. Thus began Magnolia Court behind Reynolda Hall.

The Magnolia Trees on Manchester Plaza are now included in the Campus Tree Care Plan as heritage trees.

By Jim Coffey, Director of Landscaping Services