Faculty members at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn say the administration is spending too much money on high-maintenance landscaping and not taking good care of the school's natural spaces.
A resolution passed unanimously by the 24-member faculty senate calls on the board of trustees "to adopt an approach to landscaping and stewardship of the natural areas that reflect both environmental and fiscal responsibility."
"The destruction of the college's natural habitats in favor of expensive and high-maintenance ornamental landscaping is at odds with our educational mission to promote sustainability," the resolution states. "This destruction is wasteful of resources, energy, water and taxpayers' money."
Glenn Hansen, president of the College of DuPage Faculty Association and faculty senate, said instructors are concerned with encroachments of fertilizers on two college-owned natural areas on the Glen Ellyn campus: the 18-acre Russell R. Kirt Prairie on the west side and the 15-acre Ecological Study Area on the east.
Both areas are used by the biology and earth sciences department as outdoor labs. Faculty members also conduct public educational tours there.
Hansen said only split-rail fencing separates the Kirt prairie from newly planted grass, trees and flowers.
And a pond within the Ecological Study Area, near the McAninch Arts Center, now features rocks, "commercial" trees and eight floating flower planters installed this summer, Hansen said.
"They've made it more of an urban lake than a natural lake," Hansen said.
COD President Robert Breuder said the addition of landscaping to the 273-acre campus is one reason students decide to attend school there. The college experienced a 1.4 percent increase in enrollment this year.
"What you're finding from people who come here is that they're overwhelmed with the beauty of our campus," Breuder said. "The response from the public has been overwhelming."
Breuder, who began his career as an instructor of botany at Paul Smith's College in New York in the 1970s, said the natural spaces won't be developed in the foreseeable future, despite the major building boom now taking place on campus. He left open the door that a future college president may want to build on the natural spaces, should the rest of campus be completely developed.
"As a botanist, I can tell you that I'm very sensitive to the prairie and why we preserved the prairie. But the entire campus doesn't have to be a prairie," he said.
Hansen said there's "no denying" the campus is beautiful, but once the college gets students in the door, it has to retain them with services. He said money that's spent on landscaping could be used for additional classroom equipment, such as computerized writing labs.
Breuder said COD spends "all the money we need to" on teaching and learning.
"There's no indication of any shortage anywhere. None," he said. "That's the first priority of this institution."
Campus: Breuder says people are 'overwhelmed by the beauty' of COD