President’s Blog: Cherry Blossom Festival

Dear Faculty & Staff:

It cannot have escaped anyone’s notice that cherry trees are in bloom.  For some, allergies are an unwelcome companion to – but also a reminder of – the abundant visual beauty.

For 45 years, Macon has charted a course that has elevated it to the place of International Cherry Blossom Capital of the planet.  We have over 350,000 Yoshino cherry trees in Macon-Bibb, more than in any other city – including Washington, DC and Kyoto, Japan.

This year, Middle Georgia State University’s connection to the Festival is tangible.  Two weeks ago, I accepted the Carolyn Crayton Award for Volunteerism from the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission.  This award is the result of, and is dedicated to,  the work of our grounds and facilities staff who maintain our campuses so wonderfully.  Additionally, this past Saturday during the Cherry Blossom Festival Gala, I accepted on behalf of MGA the Peyton Anderson Award – the highest award that the Festival gives.  

Perhaps of more interest to the community, this coming Sunday – March 31 – we host the Grand Finale of the Cherry Blossom Festival, an evening of Tunes and Balloons (www.cherryblossom.com/event/tunes-and-balloons/), on our Macon Campus.  MGA employees and students will each receive one free admission to the event with their current MGA ID.  The Balloon Glow, accompanied by the Macon Pops, will provide an outstanding occasion to say goodbye to the cherry blossoms for this year – and to re-dedicate ourselves to our role in a community-wide effort that preserves and stewards our environmental resources for future students and future generations.  

The Cherry Blossom Festival, after all, is a celebration of both civic and environmental pride, and Middle Georgia State is part of this environmental story.  A regional treasure and a testimony to our core value of stewardship are the botanical gardens on our Macon Campus. These gardens bear the name of Dr. Waddell Barnes, a man who fostered within our academic community a commitment to the natural environment and a legacy to preserve for future generations campuses of beauty and sustainability.  I had the honor of meeting Waddell just once in my earliest weeks here, and every year at this time I give private thanks to a person who shaped this University and this community so wonderfully through his passion.

Middle Georgia State University, now as in the past, is recognized by its community partners as a leader in environmental responsibility and campus beautification.  As we develop our campus in Macon and look to build a new entrance, residence hall, Enrollment Center and other infrastructure, it is essential that we model the highest environmental standards and help our students – and our visitors – appreciate the fragile beauty that is the hallmark of our planet.

I wish you a very pink and enjoyable Cherry Blossom Festival!

Chris