UTD Earns Tree Campus USA Designation for Sustainability Initiatives

Arbor Day

UT Dallas students and staff celebrated Texas Arbor Day in November by planting 39 native trees near the Callier Center Richardson Addition.

UT Dallas recently received the Tree Campus USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation. The program helps colleges and universities establish and sustain healthy community forests.

“This national designation is a part of the continuing effort to transform the environment of our campus,” said Richard Dempsey, associate vice president for Facilities Management. “It also helps ensure that our campus’s natural resources will receive continuing professional care and management.”

The UT Dallas grounds department and the Office of Sustainability earned the certification by establishing a strong tree maintenance and management program, designating a budget for trees and holding tree-related service projects and educational outreach on campus.

UTD Tree Facts

  • UT Dallas is one of only 27 schools in Texas and 344 schools in the nation to be admitted as a member of Tree Campus USA. 
  • UT Dallas has more than 6,800 trees.
  • There are more than 65 species of trees on campus, including 1,619 cedar elms and 977 Southern live oaks.
  • Over 400 trees are wider than 19 inches across.
  • There is one peach and one fig tree on campus.
  • UT Dallas Facilities Management routinely transplants trees from construction zones to other areas of campus, including eight bur oaks from the Engineering Building construction site.
  • If trees must be removed because they are diseased, they are replaced with healthy trees and landscape materials.
  • The grounds team has two full-time arborists. 

“Facilities Management and the Office of Sustainability work closely together to improve the livability of our landscapes, and trees play an important role in this effort,” said Thea Junt MS’16, MBA’16, associate director for energy conservation and sustainability. “A healthy environment contributes to our students’ success and provides a welcoming atmosphere on our campus.”

In the past several years, UT Dallas has made significant grounds renovations through initiatives such as the campus enhancement project championed by philanthropist Margaret McDermott and designed by landscape architect Peter Walker. This major project brought improvements such as a larger south campus entrance, lines of magnolia trees on the central pedestrian mall and various green gathering spaces for events and study breaks. It also recently earned the Society for College and University Planning’s 2017 Excellence in Landscape Architecture Merit Award for General Design.

“Over the last decade, our entire campus has been transformed,” said Dr. Calvin Jamison, vice president for administration. “We’ve gone from acres of concrete to a park-like environment with a true sense of place. The large addition of trees to accompany our new buildings and infrastructure mirrors the growth of the overall campus population and has enhanced the vibrancy of our community.”

Today, there are more than 6,800 trees on campus, representing more than 65 species. The latest installment of trees is on Loop Road, from Lot A to Lot M, where 100 native-species trees were planted last spring. UT Dallas worked with community partners to relocate two of the new trees from a construction zone at Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas. These large lacebark elms were transplanted near Lot Q.

To maintain the Tree Campus USA designation, UT Dallas has established a Tree Advisory Committee, which is a standing subcommittee of the Campus Sustainability Committee. In addition, a detailed tree care plan has been developed and implemented by Facilities Management, which includes assigning each tree on campus a number, metal tag and GPS location to help track and analyze tree life and maintenance in an online database. Tree-planting events also take place annually on campus, and service learning events are hosted by the Office of Sustainability and the Office of Student Volunteerism, both on campus and with community partners.

“On-campus, tree-planting events are special because students have the opportunity to plant their legacy here at UT Dallas,” said Mackenzie Hunter, interim director for the Office of Student Volunteerism. “They know that the fruits of their labor will be enjoyed for years to come by future generations of Comets.”

Past student events have included Texas Arbor Day on-campus tree plantings, an Earth Week Urban Tree Farm Clean-Up at Texas Trees Foundation and a “RETREET Rowlett” tree planting to help the area recover from tornado damage. 

To learn more about UT Dallas trees and sustainably initiatives, visit

Tree transplant

UT Dallas works with community partners to further sustainability in North Texas. Two large lacebark elm trees were transplanted from a construction zone at Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas to UT Dallas.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].