Which Came First: the Campus or the Tree?

by John Gagnon, promotional writer

When the Leaning Tree, also called the EERC Tree, was cut down in August, the question was: which was older, the campus or the tree? The campus dates back to 1887, when Jay Hubbell donated land for the Michigan College of Mines; it turns out the tree is older by sixteen years, says Mike Hyslop, GIS analyst and a doctoral student in forest science, SFRES.

Recall that Facilities cut a slab, called a "cookie," for Hyslop, so he could determine how old the tree was by counting the rings. Each annual ring is composed of two parts--"early" and "late" wood--with different color and structural characteristics.

By Hyslop's count, it is likely that the Leaning Tree, a white pine, took root--Hyslop says "was established"--in 1871.

This is dendrochronology: the dating of wood. Trees add both height and diameter annually. The radial growth exhibits patterns that vary primarily according to precipitation and temperature, but also light availability and disturbance.

Typically, warm temperatures and plentiful precipitation produce wider rings; and cooler, drier conditions produce narrower rings. Missing rings occur in "high ecological stress" years, when the tree does not have the resources to put on radial growth.

To age the Leaning Tree, Hyslop sanded the slab because chain saw blades produce a fairly rough surface, and the rings are difficult to discern, especially when there are several small-growth years in a row and the rings are closely spaced.

To date the tree back to 1871, Hyslop counted the rings twice by hand, under magnification, and came up with the same result. He will do some additional sanding and recheck his findings.

"I am reasonably confident," he says, "that the 139 years is correct, but there are a few areas of densely-packed rings that bear closer scrutiny."

The tree, then, was witness to the entire history of the institution to date. Hubbell donated the land, the site for the first campus building, Hubbell Hall, on Aug. 26, 1887. The local newspaper, in a modest story, announced the donation five days later, on Sept. 1, under a small headline reading "Our Mining School." It read, in part, "This site seems to us to be in every way adapted for the Mining School. The drainage is perfect, it will be in a pleasant neighborhood, with fine views up and down the lake, and of the opposite shore. There are numerous other sites in town which could have been obtained, but it seems to us that the committee [Board of Control], in deciding to accept the one presented by Mr. Hubbell, have acted wisely, and that the people will be fully satisfied."

The tree outlived the Hubbell building, which was demolished in 1970, by 40 years.

Another white pine will be planted in its space. The history it will witness? Only time will tell.

Another Year, Another K-Day

K-Day, a time to celebrate Upper Michigan's beauty and the camaraderie of campus life, will be held from noon to 4 p.m., Friday, Sept. 10, at McLain State Park.

Two thousand students are expected to attend. There will be games and free food. Sound and Lighting Services will have a DJ on hand to play music.

"It'll be a great time--good fun," says Jess Turuc, assistant director of Student Activities.

She says that 137 student organizations will have booths to dispense food, fun and information; promote what they do; and recruit new members. Students will have an opportunity to see what's available to get involved in on campus.

Paul Valencia, the student assistant for Greek Life and Leadership, is also president of the Interfraternity Council, which organizes K-Day. A fourth-year student, Valencia says, "It's been interesting and challenging." It's his first time leading the effort, but not his first time helping. "I've been on board since DNA," he says.

Public Safety and ambulance service will be on hand to help out if needed.

Students can drive to McLain or take a bus; buses leave the Memorial Union every hour, starting at 11:30 a.m.

Turuc and Valencia are keeping their fingers crossed for good weather; rain will move the doings to the SDC for the same hours.

K-Day, short for Keweenaw Day, is the first of some long-standing fall activities that depend on student involvement; upcoming are Parade of Nations (Sept. 18) and Homecoming Week (Sept. 26 to Oct. 2).

Save Your Receipt: Econo Foods Computers for Kids Program Benefits Library

Time to collect receipts from Econo Foods to benefit the Van Pelt Library.

Through its Computers for Kids program, Econo donates to the Friends of the Van Pelt Library one percent of the sum of all receipts collected. These funds are used to pay for computer systems in the library. In 2009-10, the Friends collected receipts that totaled $48,302.23. As a result, the store donated $483.02 to the Friends.

Many thanks to those who participated last year, and a big "keep-it-up" to all collecting receipts for this year.

Econo will accept receipts dated from the end of August 2010 through the middle of June 2011.

Receipts collected can be dropped in the collection box at the circulation desk of the Library or sent through intercampus mail to Mary Marchaterre, Citizen's Bank Building 303, or to Faith Morrison, ChemSci 304A.

Want to help more? Put out a collection box in your area and encourage your coworkers to bring in their receipts

There are drop boxes in the Chem Sci 203 and 607, the Library circulation desk, in the coffee room on the second floor of the Admin building, coffee area in the third floor of Citizen's, and in the basement of the EERC.

Reminder: TIAA-Cref and Fidelity to Offer Counseling

Both TIAA-Cref and Fidelity will be on campus to meet one-on-one to confidentially discuss your retirement goals, answer questions and offer guidance.

TIAA-Cref will be on campus September 14, 15, 16 and October 19, 20, 21. Call 800-732-8353 to schedule an appointment.

Fidelity will be on campus October 5, 6, 7 and November 16 and 17. Call 800-642-7131 to schedule an appointment.

For more information, see On-Campus Sessions .

Faculty, Staff Portraits Scheduled for Oct. 4

Mark your calendars now for the upcoming University faculty and staff portrait session held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday, Oct. 4, in Memorial Union Alumni Lounge B.

This session is open to all faculty and staff members--no appointment necessary. Although you are not required to attend, you are encouraged to do so if a year or more has passed since your last portrait. A second session is set for Tuesday, Nov. 9, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the same location.

Portraits will be taken by Mike Galetto, of Brockway Photography, and will be available for viewing online. A notecard with log-in information will be provided at the session. Each participant will receive a retouched portrait, via email, when it becomes available.

If you need a print for University use, contact Karina Jousma, photography coordinator, at 487-2330 or at kahautam@mtu.edu .

To order a print from University Marketing and Communications for University use, please send requests to Karina. Pricing for prints can be found online at Photo .

To purchase a print for personal use only, contact Brockway Photography at 482-1900.

For questions, contact Karina Jousma.

BRC Looking for Applications for Travel Grants

The Biotechnology Research Center (BRC) announces its fall 2010 travel grants, which provide financial assistance to Michigan Tech's undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral scientists to present their research at scientific meetings.

The grants promote research and achievement in biotechnology. The awards are merit-based and are offered in the spring and fall each year.

To apply, complete the application form available at Biotechnology .

Send the application materials to Mary Tassava, staff assistant in BRC, at mltassav@mtu.edu .

* The fall application deadline is Friday, Oct. 15,
* Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Etiquette Dinner Collaboration Sought

Career Services and the ExSEL Program will hold the annual campus-wide Business and Dining Etiquette Dinner at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 20, in the Memorial Union Ballroom.

The two departments would like to work with other departments and student organizations who are planning similar dinners this fall. Please consider working with us, or simply encourage your department or organization to attend the Oct. 20 dinner.

For questions, contact Wendy Davis at 487-3180 or at wmdavis@mtu.edu .

Library and Archives Present Jennifer Gunn on Medicine

submitted by the Library

Associate Professor Jennifer Gunn, director of the Program in the History of Medicine at the University of Minnesota, will present, "Matching the Care to the Place: Medical Provision in Mining Regions, 1900 to 1950," at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 14, in Dow 642.

The presentation addresses the Copper Country, where mining companies employed doctors, built hospitals, and taxed their workers to support that medical infrastructure; and the Iron Range of Minnesota, where a similar system was used. The question arises: As mining and extractive industries declined, what arrangements emerged for health care in small towns and rural communities to replace the industrial-dominated service?

Gunn earned a PhD in the History and Sociology of Science from the University of Pennsylvania. She is working on a book on rural health and medicine in the Upper Midwest, 1900-1950. Her interest in mining communities and rural health in an urbanized society is informed by her experience as a coal miner in Alabama.

Gunn's presentation is sponsored by the Michigan Tech Archives and the Friends of the Van Pelt Library.

Since 1998, the Archives has helped scholars advance their research by supporting travel to Tech and the use of its manuscript collections. The travel grants encourage research using the Archives' lesser known collections or using new approaches to its well-known collections. The grant committee selected four scholars this year. They join 22 past recipients in the most recent round of awards.

For more information, call the archives at 487-2505, or visit the web: http://www.lib.mtu.edu/mtuarchives/ .

Scientific and Technical Communication in Diplomacy

Honorary Consul John Petkus, consulate of the Republic of Poland in Las Vegas, will present from 2 to 3 p.m., Friday, Sept 17, in ME-EM U115, as part of a STC Speaker Series, "STC Diplomacy: Communication to a Global Audience."


ME-EM has a wood storage cabinet, 69 inches long by 17 inches wide and 27 inches high. Contact Paul Kilpela at 487-2945 or pmkilpel@mtu.edu .

The Mineral Museum has a coat rack. Contact Darlene Comfort at 487-2437 or dmcomfor@mtu.edu .

University property may only be transferred between departments. It may not be given or sold to individuals.

New Staff

Jada Gullstrand joins Athletics as program coordinator in figure skating. Previously, she was a marketing manager for FMC Ice Sports and a marketing and skating director for the Tampa Bay Skating Academy in Florida. She earned a bachelor's in business from Miami University of Ohio in 2002. She and her husband, Ben, have two children and live in Houghton.

Joshua Korn joins Athletics as an assistant coach in cross country, Nordic skiing and track and field. Previously, he was a national technical representative with Salomon USA and a regional representative for Swix Sport. He earned bachelor's degrees in human biology and psychology, minors in human development and business administration, and a coaching certificate--all from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in 2005. He lives in Houghton.

Tammie Vater joins Payroll as an office assistant. Previously, she was a teller at Range Bank. She earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 2004. She lives in Atlantic Mine.

On the Road

Associate Professor Devin Harris (CEE/MTTI) attended the 8th International Conference on Short and Medium Span Bridges, sponsored by the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering, held Aug. 3-6, in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Harris presented his paper, "Evaluation of a Stiffened Plate Approach for Lateral Load Distribution Characteristics of Short and Medium Span Bridges."

He also represented a combined MTTI/MTRI research team by presenting a poster, "Commercial Remote Sensing Technology Evaluation for Bridge Condition Assessment," authored by Harris, Associate Professor Tess Ahlborn (CEE), Research Scientist Colin Brooks (MTRI), K. Arthur Endsley (MTRI) and Michigan Tech students Khatereh Vaghefi, Darrin Evans and Renee Oats.


Associate Professor Yoke Khin Yap (Physics) served as a task force member and leader for the Materials Research Society (MRS) to discuss and prepare professional input to the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) Strategic Plan.

The work was for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Yap prepared input about future NNI investment. Much of the work was conducted using a MRS online collaboration project site.