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Botanical Conservatory and Gardens to be built at Miami Hamilton

12/12/2003

Miami University Hamilton announced Dec. 12 a gift from the Richard J. Fitton family of Hamilton that will fund the construction and operation of a botanical conservatory. The conservatory will be built on the west side of the campus, between Phelps Hall and the gymnasium.

At the family’s request, this new building will be called The Conservatory. The gift also provides for the improvement and integration of the adjacent campus landscape as a resource for teaching and research.

The 7,000 square foot multi-use facility, which was designed by Woolpert LLP of Cincinnati, consists of educational, research and public display components with about 4,460 square feet under glass. Within the building, 4,200 square feet will be used for botanical displays and meeting space. The remaining 2,800 square feet will be used for instruction, research, and service purposes. A plaza, formal gardens and outdoor art will enhance the entrance to The Conservatory.

“We are grateful for the Fitton family’s gift of $3.3 million that will support this initiative on the Hamilton campus. It is a very special gesture from a family that has been a longtime benefactor of Miami and the greater Hamilton area," said Miami Hamilton Executive Director Daniel Hall. "Not only does it enhance the educational and research opportunities on the campus, it also enriches the quality of life in and around Butler County.”

“Throughout the planning process, the Fittons were adamant in their desire to make sure this project addressed our needs to create and maintain an excellent program. In knowing Mr. Fitton, I was not surprised that his only concern was meeting the needs of the academic programs at Miami Hamilton.” said Jim Neidhard, director of development.

“Our family always has recognized the importance of Miami University and specifically Miami Hamilton to the Hamilton community," Richard Fitton said. "Our intention in supporting this project was to make those feelings quite clear. We were impressed by the enthusiasm and foresight that the faculty and staff showed in creating this project and we are pleased that we can help them make this a reality.”

Associate professor of botany Dan Gladish said with the addition of The Conservatory, Miami Hamilton can strengthen course offerings in botany, ecology, zoology and other areas of science, as well as provide resources for graphic arts, photography and the social sciences. "The Conservatory affords opportunities for the expansion of programs at Miami Hamilton, such as horticulture, greenhouse management and landscape technology,” he added.

In addition, The Conservatory and its grounds will be a site for primary scientific research involving faculty, undergraduate and graduate students. The gift provides support for a graduate assistantship which will enhance the botany department’s research capabilities.

Gladish emphasized that an important role for The Conservatory will be as “a terrific resource for primary and secondary education and for interested community groups. The gift enables Miami Hamilton to expand the existing demonstration prairie, incorporate adjacent woodland areas, establish a grove of native trees and construct permanent walkways and trails throughout the landscape with interpretive signs along the way.”

Construction for The Conservatory will begin this spring with an estimated completion date of fall 2004.

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