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25-Year-Old Endowment Keeps U of I Campus Beautiful

U of I administration building framed with Camperdown Elm tree branches
The camperdown elm trees leading up to the Administration Building are among the most iconic trees on campus.

The University of Idaho Campus Tree and Shrub Endowment quietly celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017. While not well-known, the fund brings important, continuous resources to campus, supporting the beautiful Moscow campus in perpetuity.

It hasn’t always been easy to dig up the necessary funds to plant trees and shrubs needed for the university’s residential campus, said David Rauk, U of I horticulturist. But that all changed in early 1990.  

“At that time, the budget for replacing trees and shrubs was almost nil. It was definitely near if not at the bottom of the priority list,” Rauk said. “Trying to get money to plant was an undertaking.”  

This deeply concerned Rauk, who had been at U of I less than a year at the time. Still, he was passionate about his responsibility to preserve U of I’s softscape treasures.

Then on Jan. 9, 1990, a windstorm caused significant damage to many roofs and buildings, as well as the loss of 177 trees, Rauk said.

U of I Horticulturist David Rauk
U of I Horticulturist David Rauk
Camperdown elm tree branches without leaves
The camperdown elms are visually striking even in winter.

When the university received the insurance settlement money for the damage, Rauk and his team in Facilities finally had the $60,000 needed to establish a dedicated, self-sustaining tree and shrub replacement fund. Rauk said he encouraged his superiors to set up the endowment.

“I reasoned that the endowment concept was a way to create a reliable cache of money for future replacements. I’m very glad it worked out,” he said.

Today, about $5,000 is withdrawn from the endowment’s interest annually. It enables the university to replace trees and shrubs lost to disease, insects, construction and extreme weather conditions.

“Trees and shrubs are planted in the spring and fall,” Rauk said. “The amount of money available is a perfect fit with how many we can plant with our resources, our crew.”

It took Rauk and his staff over a year to complete the tree debris removal and clean-up from the downed trees of that 1990 windstorm. And although the powerful storm was damaging, the outcome of an endowment that continues to grow with the campus landscape was worth it, Rauk said.

“In perpetuity, we’re going to have a fund to replace campus trees. It’s going to be there for the university, forever,” he said. “For me, being a tree person, that’s the best outcome I could have hoped for.”


Article by Lisa Ormond, Division of Infrastructure and UI Library

Contact

University Communications and Marketing

Phone: 208-885-6291

Fax: 208-885-5841

Email: uinews@uidaho.edu

Web: Communications and Marketing

UI Media Contacts