Office of the VP for Communications – Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

A tree grows on the Diag

What are your memories of trees on campus? About the Diag…or the Arboretum, or other wooded spaces? Tell your story in the comments section.

Comments

  1. Linda Matz - 1975

    I grew up in Ann Arbor as well as attended graduate school at UM. The diag was always a special place for gathering and reflecting. The campus of UM would not be the same with out it! So sad to see the beautiful elm no longer there!

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  2. EDWARD POWERS - BA 64, JD 67

    HOW CAN YOU TALK ABOUT \\\”TREES ON THE DIAG\\\” WITHOUT MENTION OF TAPPAN OAK?

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  3. Ernest Ranspach - 1961

    1960 or ’61, as The King of the Gypsies lay dieing in U of M hospital, and Gypsies from all over the world gathered in Ann Arbor, The official, secret camp was hidden in the Arb. My father-in-law, Dan Moore, a free-lance news photog. found the camp, and with me and our 2year old son, went there and took photos of the large funeral meal being prepared. I believe some of these photos appeared in Life magazine. When I tell this story to people I say only U of M and the city of Ann Arbor would heve responded to this emergency in such a generous, humanistic way.

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  4. Kevin Ricco - 1990

    I did my undergraduate work in the School of Natural Resources. During that time I had the opportunity to do an internship with the U of M Forestry Division. Upon graduation I had the good fortune of working as a horticulturist for the U of M until 2000. I can tell you that the tree crew that takes care of our campus trees is second to none. They have made every effort to preserve the amazing and graceful American Elms on the Diag and prolong their lives as they battle Dutch Elm Disease and the elm bark beetle, which is the insect pest that spreads the disease. I have nothing but the greatest respect for the entire crew that takes care of our beautiful campus. The next time you are out and about on campus and see someone mowing the lawns, tending the perennial gardens or planting a new tree, give them an “atta boy (or girl!)” for all of the good work they do to keep our campus looking beautiful!

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  5. Michelle Gurfein-Shain - 1985

    Many fun times in the arboretum – traying in the snow and learning how to play ultimate frisbee. Just two of the many fond memories of U/M stored.

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  6. Lea Grossman - 1995

    I enjoyed your film of the Diag, going down memory lane – sad about the Elm:-( and a HUGE thank you to the garden crew who take such good care of the entire area:-) My memories of the Diag go back to the late ’90’s when two of my sons attended U of M. We lived in Flint at the time, and drove down to visit every chance we had. I remember that my oldest son loved to take us to the Diag – I remember playing frisbee with him on the Diag. I remember the two Halesia or N.C. Silver Bell planted on either side of the steps to the UGLY. I loved them SO much that I planted one myself. The crew that cared for the Diag kindly gave me the name of the trees, but our local nurseries did not sell them, so we were obliged to order it from an out .of. town nursery. It was not cheap, but worth every spring as it lavished our front lawn with its abundant silver bells. Today, the tree is thriving happily in the same spot, though, I moved to Providence. In early ’02, I moved to Ann Arbor and sadly, the two Halesia at UGLY have been removed:-( Go Forth Diag!!!

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  7. Gail Janensch - 1964

    Some 44 years after I’d graduated, I came back to the Diag following the dedication of the renovated Student Publications building. It was a beautiful October day and the trees “spoke to me.” In their autumn colors, they reminded me of the worthiness of the education I’d received and all others like me who are shaped by U of M. Thanks for the video and the history of how the Diag came to be.

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  8. Carolyn Poissant

    I hated to see the huge elm cut down near Bivouac. I hope someone does a sculpture or something artistic with the base to commemorate the age of the tree!

    Wood from trees cut down on campus are given to local artists who create crafts and artwork from it. You can see–and purchase–some of this art at the University of Michigan Museum of Art gift shop. –Editor

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  9. Richard White - 1969

    In 1966 I started at Michigan, after military service and a year in Vietnam. What was most striking being in the Diag was the comparative quietness and bucolic environment it provided, such a radical change from what I had seen the year before. I have always said I was much younger when I graduated from Michigan than when I started. The P Bell and Sladers book store are gone but I remember the Diag.
    Richard White BA 1969

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  10. Rochelle Wynes - 1978

    Traying in the snow at the Arb, with trays borrowed from the dorm. The Diag, what a fishbowl of activity for a freshman in 1974.

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  11. Stefanie Ainley

    My father graduated from UM in the mid 70’s and I have fond memories of walking through the Diag with him, sitting in the shade and listening to him play guitar or just hanging out. The memories are even sweeter now as he passed away in 2009 from brain cancer. Thanks for the walk down this tree-lined memory lane.

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  12. Ruth Haven Rohde - 1957

    I had to stretch my legs to match the long stride of my father from his beloved Engine Arch under the beautiful shade trees down the length of the diag in the 40s. Oh for a diag here in SW Florida! I will return for a sculpture made from the majestic elm.

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  13. Linda Salvin - 1977 SPH Masters

    I remember walking on the main campus when I came down from the Public Health/Med campus; I’d walk with friends or alone, shop, sit under the trees, cut through the Diag in the shade or bare trees in the snow. Always beautiful and unique

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  14. C Casselman - 1973

    I loved all the trees around the diag. But I have a special memory of one of them.
    A male friend and I were descending a very wide staircase in a building near the diag. The staircase was illuminated by a huge window. The window was entirely filled with the leaves of one tree. The leaves were sunsplashed and bright crimson.
    I turned to my friend and said “Isn’t that beautiful!!!”
    He replied “Isn’t WHAT beautiful?”
    I was very surprised that anyone could possibly ignore such a prominent exhibition of natural beauty.
    I’ve forgotten many, many things about my time as a Michigan student. But I have treasured the memory of that gorgeous tree.

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  15. Herbert Moore - AB 1948 MBA 1949

    I met my wife at Ann Arbor in 1946 after returning from WWII. I was one of the few students on campus allowed to have a car. I would go home to Detroit on Friday after classes and return on Sunday morning. I usually returned with lunches. We went to the Arboretum to enjoy the lunches on the grass under the beautiful trees. We had three semesters at the time and during the heat of the summer, classes were sometimes held under the trees.

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  16. Lisa Krajewski McFadden - 1981

    The Diag was and remains such a wonderful juxtaposition of arena for political commentary, social gathering and university tradition with an “in the middle of it all” sense of solitude and repose.
    The Arb was where I first learned to appreciate land conservation — how critical it is to have special places that remain unencumbered by the built environment. I smile now remembering traying during the winter and frisbee golf during the spring — and a snowfall so deep that we sank thigh high and struggled to retrace the short trail we had managed to break.

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  17. Lynn Rosen - 1974

    I was just in Ann Arbor at the end of June for my son’s LS&A orientation and I pointed out the trees I used to sit under in the diag. I was so pleased to see that they have endured to be enjoyed by the next generation.

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  18. Dave Freitag - 1968

    One of my fondest memories of Michigan was singing our school songs on the Diag at night. I crossed that Diag thousands of times and enjoyed seeing the trees in all four seasons. Thanks for the video and the memories.

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  19. Amy Goldwater - 1976

    I remember writing an essay for a Journalism class about slipping on the icy “M” one winter, and have lovely memories of walking with Dylan the wonder dog as he chased squirrels. It was the centerpiece of campus life…..

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  20. Michele Melkerson-Granryd - 1982

    Sitting under a tree in the Diag – funny, it’s always been the first thing I think about when reminiscing about my great time as a Michigan student.

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  21. David Brant - 1989

    I don’t always read my Michigan Today mag, but the tree story and video caught my eye. It was nice to reflect on those days in Ann Arbor where more often than not I walked through the diag enjoying the essence of A squared. Thank you for this story.

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  22. Janice Malas - Retired P&A

    As important as the trees on the Diag so are the many others throughout campus. It was a sad day when five oaks were cut down for the new Ross School of Business. One in the main courtyard was as 150 years old.

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  23. S.A. Ivory

    Early evening in December, walking across the Diag in the first snowfall of the season. Big fluffy snowflakes sparkling in the glow of the lights. Utterly and completely magical.

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  24. Janice Burke - 1969

    While living on the 4th floor of Stockwell Hall, I heard night-time spraying of the elm trees below my room — an effort to preserve them from the ravages of the beetle-borne disease. In May ’69, when he visited the U/M campus for my wedding, my grandfather, an MSU-trained forester, expressed his appreciation of the stately elms shading the walk in front of Angell Hall.

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  25. Joyce P. - 1967

    It was on the Diag that I first heard about President Kennedy’s assassination. It is a moment I will never forget. The Diag was electric, people gasping in horror. Quite a memory.

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  26. Jean Suda - 1976

    The Diag and the trees, especially the elms, were the reason I chose the UM over MSU. I felt at home, perhaps because the street I grew up on was lined with elms that sadly all succumbed to Dutch Elm disease one by one by the time I applied to college.
    On a sillier note, perhaps the UM Diag inspired the Diagon Alley featured in the Harry Potter series. It certainly produced a lot of magical moments in my college years.

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  27. Ashley Oliverio - 1987

    In the “Evil 80s,” students like me from hardworking middle-class families were implored to major in something practical that would lead to good, solid jobs. So, I chose econ instead of art history and made daily walks through the Diag and Arb part of my coping regime. It worked, and even despite calculus I earned my degree. Today, when I speak of my alma mater, I don’t eagerly draw supply and demand curves. Instead, I sing of watching fall leaves blush outside the Hatcher Library, or of swarming the Diag with thousands of others during the presidential campaign speech appearance of Walter Mondale, and of sitting on a hill in the Arb to fly a kite during finals week. I ended up not even getting a job in my field, but the trees of Michigan reached their leafy mittens into the field of my soul, and there they are still growing, their colors still as bold in my memory today as they were the last time I saw them a quarter of a century ago.

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  28. Cindy Harris Gantick - 1981

    Nothing prophesies the seasons of my life like the seasons amongst the trees of the Diag. What comfort my young insanity found in juxtaposition of nature and civilization on our lovely U of M main campus and East Quad. Sometimes as I studied people more than my texts I’d loose my sense of place only to be awaken by and errant frisbee or soccer ball. One summer day a former classmate grabbed the handlebars of my bike and said he’d just been to Steamboat Springs, CO and that I had to find a way to get there and work. In the shade of those trees we exchanged addresses and now in the shade of the Rocky Mountain quaking aspens, firs and lodge poles. I am hearkened back to the midwestern elms, oaks, and maples that lined the pathway to preserve my appreciation for a sense of place where ever God plants me. Thank you so much for this new piece. If only the trees of the Diag could tell all their tales.

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  29. Ben Sandefur

    Great video. It made me think about the fact that we evolved from apes on the savannah of Africa. Oh yeah, it also reminded me of going to school in Ann Arbor. Go Blue!

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  30. Astrid Herbert - 1981

    We came from Australia because my husband, Eugene, was convinced that the School of Natural Resources was THE place for him to study Landscape Architecture – and it was. We loved our three years in Ann Arbor and a major reason for that was the beautiful environment. For me the heart of Ann Arbor was the Diag, and for sheer delight there was nothing better than watching the squirrels with their question-mark tails, scampering with cheeky abandonment up and down, and between, the beautiful trees.

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  31. Brandon R - 2010

    Such fond memories of the trees in Diag. Thanks for putting this piece together and allowing others to share their stories. One of my favorite times to be in the Diag is summertime late evening, when the sun shines through the trees allowing filtered rays to create wonderful bands of warm light and shadow.

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  32. Brian McKenzie - 1984

    As a forestry graduate of this fine University, the trees have a special meaning to me. While I have many fond memories of my time in Ann Arbor, enjoying time on the shaded Diag is one of the best. The importance and significance of the trees on a campus such as U of M cannot be overstated and their proper care is one of the most significant things we can provide to future generations. Cudos to Mr. Marvin Pettway (campus forester and good friend) and his staff for their fine work.
    Brian McKenzie, BSF 1984

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  33. Joan Aldrich - 1961

    I remember lots of students chatting, studying and sunning themselves, as weather permited. Most fun was seeing the dogs, some fraternity mascots, who were popular participants in the entertainment. Do they still allow dogs on the diag?

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  34. Linda Palmer Cooke - l961

    One of my best friends when we were both students at UM in the late ’60s was a girl from Hawaii. She had never seen snow so the first time the Diag was covered with snow she and i and another friend went there and we made her lie down in the snow with us and we all made snow angels.

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  35. Peg Guinane - 1958

    I went through Ann Arbor in 2010 and had to go to the diag to recall lovely memories. There was a coffee shop right on the block across the side street of the diag. It was painted pea soup green inside and they grilled their sweet rolls. Anyone remember it?

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  36. Steve Viert - 1974

    As a student of wildlife biology and forestry in the School of Natural Resources, I very much appreciated the “ecological” perspective given the University by the arboreal canopy of the Diag. But what lingers strongest in memory are the peaceful tones: students reading while propped against the mighty elms, dogs playing frisbee with their owners, the smell of fresh cut grass, and the occasional musical offerings by a soloist on the steps of the Grad Library.

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  37. Frances Walts - 1963

    Beautiful memories of the diag and the trees, especially in the summer when attending nursing classes and fewer students on campus. Quiet solitude was there for the taking when venturing onto the diag under the beautiful shade canopy they provided as a respite from the heat.

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  38. Christopher Shults - 2008

    I often found myself sitting on the back steps of Hatcher or under one of the trees on the diag after spending hours in the library researching or writing or in Angel Hall getting assistance with the dissertation process. I miss the colors in the Spring and the Fall and will continue to fondly remember by time in Ann Arbor – Go Blue!

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  39. Susan Palmer-Loiselle - 1970

    Recall studying on the Diag and planting bulbs for Peace with others. Also taking my sleeping bag and sleeping all night on a raised knob-like hill in the Arb, that was covered with pines that made a lovely pattern against the night sky.stars shone through those trees. One could do that then and be safe there. Stuart Abbey made a lovely photo of three tree-shrubs in the mist (Arb)that I have to this day. Lovely memories of UM and its trees!

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  40. Joyce P. - 1967

    Comment to to Peg Guinane – 1958 —
    I believe the place you’re thinking of is Drake’s Sandwich Shop, although we used to call it Drake’s Tea Room. I was a student from ’63 through ’67 and I cut many a Poli. Sci. 100 class to go to Drake’s for a toasted pecan roll with a cup of tea, lured there by my later-to-be husband.

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  41. Deborah Kish - 1977

    I walked through the cathedral -like Diag every day going to the Chemistry building, Grad Library, UGLI, Angel Hall, and Waterman Gym. I\’ll never forget. That atmosphere somehow helps create lofty thoughts. I have brought my children there, hoping some of that might rub off! Another use of the Diag trees while I was at U-M was to give streakers \”extra coverage\”! One night we learned that some students were going to streak through the Diag and hundreds showed up to watch. Thanks to the trees, I couldn\’t see a thing!

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  42. Ramona Bashshur - 1984. 2011

    The trees of the Diag, and of the campus in general over the years, are the very backdrop, the landscape of this unique atmosphere that locks so many hearts forever. This landscape is part of what makes freshmen classes feel connected to the history of UM after they have been in town for a week. I walk through the Diag now several times a year and miss the less manicured, less glitzy campus of the late 70s/early 80s, but I know my children find their own connection that is just as meaningful. Still I wouldn’t trade my memories of our jeans-clad classes that met outside on the Diag in the sun for a session or two, feeding the squirrels on the steps of the Grad, or sliding down the muddy, wooded hill that is now UM Hospital.

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  43. Rodney Hill - 1991

    I did a history of the ME Department and I was studying some photos of trees around the old Engineering “Annex” on S. University. Over the course of years one tree in particular flourished and grew until in one photo, a new chimney appears above the building (belching black smoke). Subsequent shots show the tree withered and died fairly quickly after the chimney and then cars came into the picture. Coincidence, probably, but sad nonetheless.

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  44. Frances Walts

    Frances Walts – 1953 The best memories I have are in walking from the Medical Center campus to the diag in the summer for anatomy classes What a still, tranquil, refreshing and rich feeling it was to be at the diag then when fewer students were in attendance. I could feel almost as if the U of M was mine alone to enjoy ,especially with the beautiful trees providing shade, beauty, and easy breezes on some very hot summer days. Oh, to be there again, in those peaceful days. Nothing can surpass the main campus, the diag and the trees.
    Nothing beats Ann Arbor, Drakes and Slaters in addition to the beautiful trees in the Diag in spring, summer and fall. Nothing.

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  45. Richard Ray - '77,'78,'84

    I remember working in my professor’s office. It was just over the Engineering Arch and looked down the entire diagonal of the Diag. Never had a better view since then.

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  46. Judy Roosma Robison - 1970

    Anyone else remember the gentleman who thought he was Napoleon, trying to marshal his troops of squirrel on the Diag in the late ’60s?

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  47. Susan Roelofs-Haughn - 1975 BA, 1978 MSW

    After viewing the video and reading the comments, I wonder, why did I not look up more often when walking in the Diag? I remember sitting under the trees, people watching and all the dogs and frisbees. I wish I had been more aware of the beauty there, and less serious. When I visit next, I will look more closely. Thanks to all who preserve the landscape and the history.

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  48. Sahara St. John

    I have no idea where the trees I asked of Ann Arbor’s Foundation to plant in the memories of my paternal grandfather, great-grandfather, maternal grandmother, a beloved teacher, and an aunt who was my surrogate mom & of whom I miss greatly even today, 8 years and 8 days later.
    Regardless of where these trees stand, they are all a testament of the joy and love these people brought into my life as well as that of others. Our lives are so short when compared to the grand scheme of things even with my great-grandfather having lived well into his 90s, but I cannot articulate the immense appreciation of having these trees planted in their names – immortalizing each of them within the beauty of trees that live well into hundreds of years when outside of areas where logger companies are not allowed to go. And while I cannot physically go to the area where they are without an extended travel and the assistance of the Arbor Day Foundation, I am still forever and always in their debt for the assistance of planting these trees in areas safe from loggers where they can flourish as intended for hundreds of years as well as the assistance this program gives to our ecological health to save the planet even if it is simply one tree at a time.
    The Ann Arbor Foundation is as precious to me as the Lupus Alliance and National Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation as they each provide a necessary service to the world, to the country, and to the people.

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