Memory garden for Mackin, others underway

Emily Lepkowski, News Editor

The memory garden inspired by former Dean of Students Mary Beth Mackin, who died in November, 2015, is to not only remember her, but Robin Fellows, Spencer Twining and the many Warhawk faculty and students who have died or retired in the past few years.

“It’s a great way to reflect upon and place those people in a more permanent place on campus,”  Kristine Zaballos, Marketing and Media Relations writer and master gardener said.

The memory garden hopes to capture all the memories of  those who attended UW-Whitewater.

“This is not a memorial garden, this is not about only people that have passed, this is about good memories that have happened here and I’ve had a lot of really great memories with Mary Beth as have a lot of other people,” Jan Bilgen Career and Leadership Development and project member said.

The $58,000 garden is being funded by donations and non-restricted funds. It will be located near the Center of the Arts turnabout.

“It’s really a design to remember all sorts of milestones,” Bilgen said. “Maybe someone who’s  been here for 50 years, maybe a couple who is celebrating their anniversary and met here on campus, so that kind of thing.”

There is currently a chalk layout of the area, with construction expected to start in the next few weeks with laying concrete.

The garden fund balance is currently at $12,385 with some additional fundraisers in the works. The faculty working on the project plan to sell Garden Gift Bags for the memory garden at the Whitewater City Market on May 2 and 9.

Donations are still being accepted toward the garden. There are three levels of donations starting at $25 and going up.

‘We’re hoping that the hardscape will be in before June 1, so people will see the hardscape first and then we will have a working planting day in the summer or late fall,” Bilgen said.

Zaballos said a dedication is scheduled for this September near the completion of the project.

The design will include repurposed pillars from the memory of Old Main burning down to encapsulate some of the physical memories from campus.

The memorial will feature a large semi-circular performance space for students to put on music or dance performances as well as ceremonies.

Zaballos said the garden also will  serve as a space for quiet joy like candlelight vigils
and reflections.

“Its deeply satisfying to be able to provide a place to those of us who live, work and come to school here,” Zaballos said. “This is
our family.”

Besides plants and flowers, there will be a commemorative
description of Mackin. The design will also include a wall with copper plates for people to donate a special date or favorite quote.

“Everyone is really behind it, from the Chancellor’s committee, to the landscape team and most importantly, the men and women that will be taking care of it, the landscape crew,” Bilgen said. “They’ve been really active partners in it.”

A wide range of faculty and staff have come together to work on the project from Planning and Facilities Management Wesley Enterline and the dean of students office, to professors in the music and dance department.

“It touches a lot of people when they lose someone, so part of the reason we’ve taken time is because we want to do it in a respectful and thoughtful manner,”
Zaballos said.

A website for the memory garden is expected to be launched in the next few weeks.

To give online go to

Donations can also be mailed to UW-Whitewater Foundation.