Campus Memory Garden to break ground in 2017

November 07, 2016

Written by Kristine Zaballos 

Memory headerThe University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is unveiling a plan for a memory garden that will create a place for both quiet reflection and joyful activity for years to come.

Inspired by the unexpected death of Dean of Students Mary Beth Mackin on Nov. 7, 2015, the many colleagues, friends, family members and students whose lives she touched sought a way to honor her legacy on campus. With the support of the chancellor, the planning team conceived of and developed a conceptual plan for a garden in her memory. As the campus lost other members of the Warhawk family, the proposed garden grew to be a place where significant transitions could be acknowledged — from those who pass away to long-serving colleagues who retire and other milestones — that could also host small ceremonies and other events.

The site of the garden, to the east of the Greenhill Center of the Arts, is a tranquil area that houses a bird feeding sculpture and some annual beds. The sculpture will remain, and mixture of trees, perennials, paths, seating and historical artifacts will invite humans, birds and butterflies alike. A small performance space will bring music and dance into the garden. And Mackin's role in inspiring the garden will be shared on an entrance feature.

Garden sketchWork on the garden will begin this fall, with the boulders cleared and the ground graded in preparation for construction in the spring. First, five sections from the original four stone pillars that graced Old Main will be used to create a striking central focal point in the garden. In April 2017 the garden's stamped pathways will be poured and other hardscape elements will be installed. A groundbreaking is planned for late April 2017, when a joyful profusion of purple and white perennials will be planted.

Two committees are working to develop the garden itself and the fund that will pay for it. There will be many opportunities for friends and colleagues who wish to involve themselves, from contributing to the fund, attending events, purchasing or planting shrubs and flowers, or helping to tend the garden in the future.

Those who are interested in donating to the UW-Whitewater Campus Memory Garden in honor of Mary Beth Mackin are invited to visit:
Select "New Gift," then under "Select a Fund," choose "Memory Garden-Mary Beth Mackin."

To give by mail, please make your check out to "UW-Whitewater Foundation," indicate "Memory Garden-Mary Beth Mackin" on the check, and mail it to:

UW-Whitewater Foundation
800 W. Main Street
Whitewater, WI 53190

All donors and volunteers will be invited to a groundbreaking expected to take place in late spring 2017.

If you have questions or would like to support the garden in another way, please contact Jan Bilgen at