by Antonio Coleman - July 5, 2012
For more than 20 years, Will Gasper’s gardens have been a collaboration of floral patterns displaying the diversity of Ferris State University.
From commuters passing the Perry Street garden welcoming visitors to the home of Ferris to students resting beneath the College of Business building’s “Celebration” sculpture, Gasper’s gardens are a distinct display of his signature passion.
“They are the exclamation point of a landscape showcasing the beauty of the campus,” said Gasper, a 2000 Distinguished Staff Award winner, who strives for excellence at his craft. “They finish the picture.”
Gasper’s passion for planting ignited years before he became Ferris’ grounds, roads and walks manager in 2007.
Raised on a hobby farm in Chesaning, Gasper’s interest in floral design began as a student at Michigan State University. After taking a career-interest course in park management, Gasper made the decision to change his major to Parks and Recreation while minoring in Horticulture.
He worked as a groundskeeper for K-12 schools before joining Ferris in 1989 as grounds supervisor. Maintaining more than 700 acres of the Ferris campus through snow removal, sidewalk renovations, parking lot upkeep and gardening, Gasper is most pleased with the creation of the College of Arts and Sciences north side courtyard.
“Looking over my 23 years at Ferris, our work with the north side courtyard makes the biggest impression,” Gasper said. “Everything from selecting flowers conducive to the area to determining the amount of necessary sunlight was taken into its design.”
Displaying garden varieties across campus such as Helen’s Garden (named after one of the university’s founders, Helen Gillespie Ferris) between the Alumni and Prakken buildings, Gasper’s creations also are the work of nearly two dozen grounds crew members and students.
“It’s a total collaborative effort from the planning stage all the way to the students planting flower beds,” he said.
During the last two-plus decades, the university’s grounds crew has become more intensive in designing and maintaining the flower beds and shrubs surrounding the campus, Gasper said. As planned future renovations for the new University Center and the demolition of Masselink and Carlisle residence halls are scheduled in 2013, Gasper said he and his staff are excited for the possibilities awaiting the campus’ green space.
“We have one of the best ground crews,” Gasper said. “Our staff is proud of the work they put into making Ferris a better university and we want people to enjoy it.”
Antonio Coleman is a News Services student writer in University Advancement and Marketing.