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June 14, 2013
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine

Courtyard flower project blooms

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -Every time Sunshine Mushrush, a Slippery Rock University clerk typist II in the Office of Admissions, walks by the Welcome Center in North Hall and glances through the bay windows into the North Hall courtyard, she beams.

She and six other University employees helped the courtyard bloom by planting petunias, impatiens, posies and dahlias, as well as whirligigs, in six empty pots. The green thumbs bought packs of flowers and planted them early one morning.

They picked species and colors they liked, including white, lavender, purple, orange, red-and white, and yellow flowers.

"I thought it was a fantastic idea. I absolutely love flowers," Mushrush said. "Not only is this something special for our guests, but every time I see the pots of flowers it makes me smile. It truly brightens up my day."

Contributors include Robert Lagnese, associate director of admissions/director of orientation; Emily Riggs, assistant director of admissions; Betsy Stevens, associate director of admissions; Stacy Bluedorn, clerk typist II for the McKeever Environmental Learning Center; Kimberly Zedreck, clerk typist II for graduate admissions; Melissa Barber, clerk typist II for retention and retention and George McDowell, recruitment and retention strategist/veterans services coordinator for enrollment services.

The North Hall Welcome Center is often the first stop for prospective students and their parents, so employees wanted to boost first impressions.

"The pots were just sitting out there, and they were empty and looked barren," Mushrush said. "Now when people come in the flowers provide a little better experience."

The beatification project originated with Lagnese. He emailed North Hall colleagues saying they could adopt one of the six pots and fill them with spring and summer blooms to add a touch of whimsy and hospitality for visitors and coworkers. The impetus was to make a big impact with a small-cost project.

"I chose to help because we have prospective students and their families visiting daily, so I feel it's important to show a sense of pride in our campus," Riggs said. "The courtyard of North Hall is a great feature of our building, and I feel that we should highlight it in a positive way - one way being these colorful flowers."

Zedreck, who graduated from SRU in 1987 and lived in North Hall, said she bought purple, lavender and white petunias.

"The courtyard is something all the visitors see and it was sort of a team-building activity for the staff to help beauty the courtyard," she said.

Said Stevens, "We spend so much time together working, but growing flowers is something that we can do together that is simply fun. And, of course, we benefit by a prettier work atmosphere."

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.