Why They Give

The Alumnae Secretaries’ Garden

UNCG takes pride in its beautiful campus, lined with trees and flowerbeds. Holding a special place in the hearts of students, faculty, staff, and alumni are the gardens speckling the grounds. One such garden is the Alumnae Secretaries’ Garden, a boxwood and English-style garden nestled between Alumni House and the Vacc Bell Tower. It offers a place of quiet reflection and communal gathering in one of the busiest parts of the campus: College Avenue, the pedestrian mall.

To celebrate the Alumni Association secretaries of the past, present, and future, the Secretaries’ Garden was first created in 1964, designed by then Superintendent of Landscaping and Grounds Charles O. Bell. Over the years, it fell into stagnation, which didn’t fit with the rest of the campus’s flora. In 2006, when fundraising efforts began to support a full renovation of Alumni House, one UNCG alumna decided to make the Secretaries’ Garden her priority.

“I never appreciated the garden when I was here,” says Susan Seeker Jones ’78. “I want to make sure students don’t make the same mistake and take advantage of the many green spaces available.”

Jones revitalized the Secretaries’ Garden through a gift to the Alumni House Furnishings Fund. Teaming up with then Landscaping Department Head Chris Fay, Jones introduced new plants and design features, including a brick sheltering wall and benches. She also added irises and flowering bushes to the garden, which stand as living memorials to Jones’s parents, Iris and “Bud.”

“I was the first person in my family to go to college. My parents were so proud and they appreciated everything a great education like UNCG’s gave me. They nurtured and helped me grow at a time that was exciting and frightening, so it seemed appropriate to remember them with something that will nurture and inspire new students.”

A long-time gardener, Jones suggested flowering plants that do well in the Piedmont’s climes. In addition to the irises, she also introduced climbing camellias, which provide a beautiful backdrop for studying or chatting with friends and colleagues.

The Alumnae Secretaries’ Garden has withstood time and change. Through kindness and care, Jones created an enduring memorial to her parents and space for students, faculty, staff, and friends to enjoy in all seasons – one that will nurture and grow for years to come.

Story by Michelle Danner-Groves, Donor Relations


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P. Kevin Williamson

Associate Vice Chancellor