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April 29. 2013 10:17PM

Plymouth State University offers thanks to the campus' retired horticulturist


Steven Sweedler, left, accepts the Madie W. Barrett Award from PSU Provost Dr. Julie Bernier at a ceremony Friday. Sweedler is credited with beautifying the Plymouth State campus during his 35-year tenure. (DAN SEUFERT PHOTO)

PLYMOUTH - Plymouth State University has given formal thanks to a man who helped make the campus beautiful for 35 years.

Steven Sweedler, who served as the campus horticulture specialist until his retirement in August 2011, has been given the Madie W. Barrett Award, presented to a former member of the university community who has contributed to its advancement.

The award is given for "extraordinary" efforts to a person who has made significant and noteworthy contributions in his/her field of endeavor, and the recipient has served the university for at least 10 years.

Sweedler, who accepted the award at a ceremony on Friday, started work at Plymouth in 1976, and began creating beauty on campus.

"I felt that the whole university was desperate for color," Sweedler said Monday. "I began with magnolias, but I was pleased that I was allowed to plant what was needed when necessary."

After a few years, "an incredible metamorphosis began to take hold," said PSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Julie Bernier.

"Each season on campus brought an element of anticipation for color, unusual blossoms and backdrops that any photographer would love. It became apparent that this undertaking had become a labor of love and one of a true visionary."

Terry Downs of PSU's art department said Sweedler was responsible for profound, positive changes to the Plymouth State campus.

"The impact of the physical space he created helped mold the shared personality of the institution, Downs said.

Sweedler said he will continue to admire his work and that of his successors.

"It was always a great pleasure and I still take great joy in walking around campus," he said.

dseufert@newstote.com


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