A Gift to Our Campus

After taking this photo with Steve Volkmann at The Oval, he refused the ride back to his office at The Gateway. It was one of those rare days in early March when the sun was out from the clouds, illuminating enough heat to go without a jacket, and Steve wanted to enjoy it.

Steve is the university landscape architect, working for Planning and Real Estate. His responsibilities include serving as a resource and helping guide the planning, design and implementation of most anything related to the landscape for Ohio State’s Columbus campus. Walks through The Oval allow him to admire the beauty of one of the most iconic spots on campus that his team works hard to maintain. They also help him notice areas that might need attention.

“We’re our own harshest critic. I see things that someone else might not see, and then we work to fix them,” Steve said.

Much of the campus landscape can be mended thanks in part to Steve’s contributions to two Campus Campaign funds.

Since he started at the university in 2002, he has contributed to support the Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens Fund.

“Plant material, as you can imagine, is near and dear to my heart. I always feel like the arboretum is an underdog on campus, so I want to support it.”

To Steve, the Chadwick Arboretum serves as a gateway into campus, providing visitors a healthy view of some of nature’s greatest gifts.

“I thought in some small way I could offer my assistance to make sure the arboretum stays in the best condition possible.”

A few years later, Steve learned about the Grounds Memorial Maintenance Fund that assists with the upkeep of campus memorials.

“We are blessed with so many people who want to give to the university, unfortunately we don’t really have money in the budget dedicated to repairing the memorials and monuments. That is what this fund does. If things end up broken we can dip into this fund to help repair it.”

So when the back of a donated wooden bench breaks, when a memorialized name plate needs touched up or a brick on The Oval Long Walk goes missing, this fund can underwrite its repair or replacement.

“These gifts are a way for donors to leave a legacy behind on campus. I don’t want them to come back and wonder what’s happened to their donation. It’s important that we maintain the legacy that these donors have provided.”

To make sure the legacies last, Steve will continue supporting the grounds memorials and Chadwick Arboretum. He said he’s never considered not giving.

“If everybody gave a little bit, we would be able to sustain the programs that are so important to campus.”