In Bloom

Gardens of Grand Valley’s First Ladies

close up of purple-pink flower petals

STORY BY SARAH DUDINETZ
PHOTOS BY KENDRA STANLEY-MILLS
ILLUSTRATIONS BY CHRISTINE O‘BRIEN

In the quiet corners of campus, Grand Valley’s four first ladies, revered for their leadership and contributions to the university, are immortalized through gardens. 

“Our first ladies inspire me and I’m sure those of you who know them and everything they do feel the same way,” President Emeritus Thomas J. Haas remarked at the Elizabeth Murray Garden dedication. “They host events, build important partnerships and relationships, greet and mentor students, become role models for others, are asked for ideas and advice and are on call 24/7 as a sounding board for the person with the title of president.”

Here are the tranquil spaces that celebrate the legacies of Grand Valley’s leading women.

Marcia Haas garden with pathway next to Performing Arts Center, tree in middle

Marcia J. Haas Garden

The newest garden on campus was dedicated in August 2023 to Marcia Haas. Marcia served the university alongside her husband, President Emeritus Thomas J. Haas, from 2006-2019. The garden is located on the west side of the Haas Center for Performing Arts, a building and location that embodies the couple’s love for music. If you sit in the garden on a fall evening, you can hear the marching band rehearsing on a nearby practice field.

handdrawn map of Performing Arts Center with green marker where garden is, on west side of center. The map is collaged with illustrations of white flowers with yellow centers (daisies), a reddish-brown grass, and a long purple flower (lily turf).

The location of the Marcia J. Haas Garden is shown in relation to the Haas Center for Performing Arts. It is collaged with illustrations of Shasta Daisies, Variegated Lily Turf and Dwarf Fountain Grass.

The location of the Marcia J. Haas Garden is shown in relation to the Haas Center for Performing Arts. It is collaged with illustrations of Shasta Daisies, Variegated Lily Turf and Dwarf Fountain Grass.

purple flowers bloom in circle puffs from long green stems

Marcia Haas garden with pathway next to Performing Arts Center, tree in middle

Marcia J. Haas Garden

The newest garden on campus was dedicated in August 2023 to Marcia Haas. Marcia served the university alongside her husband, President Emeritus Thomas J. Haas, from 2006-2019. The garden is located on the west side of the Haas Center for Performing Arts, a building and location that embodies the couple’s love for music. If you sit in the garden on a fall evening, you can hear the marching band rehearsing on a nearby practice field.

handdrawn map of Performing Arts Center with green marker where garden is, on west side of center. The map is collaged with illustrations of white flowers with yellow centers (daisies), a reddish-brown grass, and a long purple flower (lily turf).

The location of the Marcia J. Haas Garden is shown in relation to the Haas Center for Performing Arts. It is collaged with illustrations of Shasta Daisies, Variegated Lily Turf and Dwarf Fountain Grass.

The location of the Marcia J. Haas Garden is shown in relation to the Haas Center for Performing Arts. It is collaged with illustrations of Shasta Daisies, Variegated Lily Turf and Dwarf Fountain Grass.

purple flowers bloom in circle puffs from long green stems

red plant blooms from greenery
bumblebe hovers near bright blue flowers
curved stem of plant leads to large leaf
red plant blooms from greenery
bumblebe hovers near bright blue flowers
curved stem of plant leads to large leaf
garden with decorative portico over benches, pink dogwoods in bloom

Elizabeth Murray Garden

The Murrays served Grand Valley from 2001-2006. Dedicated in September 2011, the Elizabeth Murray Garden is in the courtyard space of the Mark A. Murray Living Center, on the south end of the Allendale Campus. The space features many of Elizabeth’s favorite flowers, including delphiniums. During planning, the project’s landscape architect noted that the path through the garden, planned originally to curve to the right, would allow for better drainage if it curved to the left instead. Elizabeth herself felt this was more fitting, as she herself is left-handed.

A handdrawn map of Murray Living Center, shaped like capital E, with marker where garden is located (inside the 'E' on the Southeast side). It is collaged with illustrations of blue delphiniums (a fluffy blue flower) and peony buds (dark red and pink round buds with green leaves).

The location of the Elizabeth Murray Garden is shown in relation to Murray Living Center. It is collaged with illustrations of Peony buds and Delphinium.

The location of the Elizabeth Murray Garden is shown in relation to Murray Living Center. It is collaged with illustrations of Peony buds and Delphiniums.

garden with decorative portico over benches, pink dogwoods in bloom

Elizabeth Murray Garden

The Murrays served Grand Valley from 2001-2006. Dedicated in September 2011, the Elizabeth Murray Garden is in the courtyard space of the Mark A. Murray Living Center, on the south end of the Allendale Campus. The space features many of Elizabeth’s favorite flowers, including delphiniums. During planning, the project’s landscape architect noted that the path through the garden, planned originally to curve to the right, would allow for better drainage if it curved to the left instead. Elizabeth herself felt this was more fitting, as she herself is left-handed.

A handdrawn map of Murray Living Center, shaped like capital E, with marker where garden is located (inside the 'E' on the Southeast side). It is collaged with illustrations of blue delphiniums (a fluffy blue flower) and peony buds (dark red and pink round buds with green leaves).

The location of the Elizabeth Murray Garden is shown in relation to Murray Living Center. It is collaged with illustrations of Peony buds and Delphiniums.

The location of the Elizabeth Murray Garden is shown in relation to Murray Living Center. It is collaged with illustrations of Peony buds and Delphiniums.

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red leaves on branch from Japanese maple
blue flowers pop against field of green stems
ant crawls on petal of pink flower
white flower opens to reveal its core

gate to Nancy Lubbers Garden, plaque on brick wall
looking through gate posts at garden, living center in view across street
gate to Nancy Lubbers Garden, plaque on brick wall
looking through gate posts at garden, living center in view across street
winding garden path, tree in center sunlight coming through

Nancy Lubbers Garden

The only garden not located on the Allendale Campus is the Lubbers Garden, which is outside of the Regency Room of DeVos Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. Walking on the north side of the sidewalk along Fulton Street, you may catch a glimpse of the garden through two metal gates. Nancy Lubbers was the longest-serving first lady in Grand Valley’s history, serving with her husband, President Emeritus Arend D. Lubbers, from 1969-2001. 

handdrawn map of Devos Center with marker for Nancy Lubbers Garden on South side of building along Fulton Street. Map is collaged with illustrations of Chinese Tree Peony (fluffy light pink flower and darker pink flower), and Sawara False Cypress Boulevard (green pine branch).

The location of the Nancy Lubbers Garden is shown in relation to the Richard M. DeVos Center. It is collaged with illustrations of Chinese Tree Peony and Sawara False Cypress Boulevard.

The location of the Nancy Lubbers Garden is shown in relation to the Richard M. DeVos Center. It is collaged with illustrations of Chinese Tree Peony and Sawara False Cypress Boulevard.

winding garden path, tree in center sunlight coming through

Nancy Lubbers Garden

The only garden not located on the Allendale Campus is the Lubbers Garden, which is outside of the Regency Room of DeVos Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. Walking on the north side of the sidewalk along Fulton Street, you may catch a glimpse of the garden through two metal gates. Nancy Lubbers was the longest-serving first lady in Grand Valley’s history, serving with her husband, President Emeritus Arend D. Lubbers, from 1969-2001. 

handdrawn map of Devos Center with marker for Nancy Lubbers Garden on South side of building along Fulton Street. Map is collaged with illustrations of Chinese Tree Peony (fluffy light pink flower and darker pink flower), and Sawara False Cypress Boulevard (green pine branch).

The location of the Nancy Lubbers Garden is shown in relation to the Richard M. DeVos Center. It is collaged with illustrations of Chinese Tree Peony and Sawara False Cypress Boulevard.

The location of the Nancy Lubbers Garden is shown in relation to the Richard M. DeVos Center. It is collaged with illustrations of Chinese Tree Peony and Sawara False Cypress Boulevard.

round cactus leaves