USC Upstate Dedicates Two New Gardens in Susan Jacobs Arboretum

December 9, 2016 at 5:45 pm

Thanks to generous donors, the University of South Carolina Upstate is planting for the future.

“Putting things back in to the earth is an act of greater good and one that has great depth,” said David Culp, horticulturalist as he attended a tree-dedication service during USC Upstate’s 13th annual Arbor Day celebration. “A garden has the ability to take you away. This is what we give to the world. You are planting for the future.”

His words rang true for donors Andrea and Greg Shurburtt and P. Kathryn “Katie” Hicks and her husband Dr. Larry Roël who cut the ribbons during Arbor Day for two newly named gardens in the Susan Jacobs Arboretum at USC Upstate.

The Shurburtt Landscaping Group, Inc., Garden and the Hicks-Roël Garden reflect the longstanding relationship both couples have to USC Upstate. Initial plantings for the establishment of the Arboretum were made possible through the Shurburtt Landscaping Group, Inc., and Andrea Shurburtt has been an adjunct faculty member in the School of Education. In addition, Cyrill Softball Stadium, which has consistently received national recognition for its turf management and field maintenance, was under the guidance of Shurburtt Landscaping Group.

“I hope this space will be a place that students can relax and enjoy being outdoors,” Andrea Shurburtt said. “A quiet place to study or a serene place to just be alone with their thoughts.”


For Greg Shurburtt, it’s a project that has sort of come full circle for him. “Fourteen years ago, I was a young landscape architect who USC Upstate took a chance on to put the infrastructure in place to build this beautiful space.”


As he finds interesting plants while working on projects, he still finds himself ordering an extras to donate to the arboretum.


“I’ve watched this garden evolve and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Hicks, professor emerita of art at USC Upstate, and Roël, a board certified ophthalmologist in Spartanburg, have, again, embraced an opportunity to contribute to the growth and beauty of the University by planting and naming a garden for the faculty at USC Upstate.

“The faculty are the heart of this University,” Hicks said. “I spent most of my adult life here at the University. I want to create a little beauty for those who are still here and those who will come after us.”

The gardens located behind the Health Education Complex are entry gardens to the 12-acre arboretum. With that in mind, Deno White of Capitol Construction of the Carolinas donated the labor to incorporate three wings that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, so that the gardens can be enjoyed by everyone. The new sidewalks provide a route connecting the Sansbury Campus Life Center to the Health Education Complex, instead of having to use the road for access.

“We are excited to see this new portion of the Arboretum completed,” said Bea Walters Smith, director of development and foundation scholarships at the USC Upstate Foundation. “The Arboretum has been built solely through the generous support of the community through private donations with no state funding appropriated for its growth.”

In addition to the opening of the new gardens, the University also planted trees to honor the lives of two University employees who died earlier this year. Trees were planted in memory of Dr. Ron Romine, History professor emeritus having taught for 32 years, and Becky Taylor, a financial aid coordinator at the University for 39 years. A tree also was planted in memory Dr. Norbert A. Stirzaker, who served as the first director of the Spartanburg Regional Campus, by his widow, Mildred, and daughter, Ellen Cohen.

For more information about how to support these efforts and this distinctive green space, contact Smith at (864) 503-5235 or