The first Art Building was completed in 1960, the first academic building built after
the initial six structures erected for the opening of the University in September
1956. A gift of Beatrice Haggerty, it was designed by the famous “father of Southwest
architecture” O’Neil Ford.
The design incorporated a professionally planned garden which included three “peppermint
trees”, flowering peach trees so-called because of the shades of rose to white blooming
on each tree. The trees matured and the chair of the Art Department, Lyle Novinski,
noticed there were small saplings springing up in the ground cover around them. He
transplanted the saplings to a place in the surrounding forest to grow to an adequate
size. When ready, with the help of freshmen Art majors, the saplings were planted
along the wall they had built near what is now the east end of the J. M. Haggar University
What began as a onetime rescue of tiny trees began a practice where Professor Novinski
would dig up the small sprouts from the previous year’s small peaches. It was a short
crucial rescue window because the saplings had to germinate before the first mowing—once
mowed off they would be gone. His habit became to take the little sprouts home, often
dug out with a cafeteria spoon, place them in single pots in his garden. After a
year of growth—to about twenty-four inches high, they would be transferred to large
buckets to grow into small trees. Regularly, in the winter, students, organized now
through the Student Government Landscape Committee, and Novinski planted them around
campus in places with good sun, some protection, and perhaps, some irrigation.
The unpredictable different shades present on one tree remains a mystery. Often questions
are asked about grafting. That is not the case; the trees have their own way of determining
the shades and amount of mix on a single tree. The Peppermint Peach Trees live about
20 years. The first trees planted are long gone but others have been inserted and
enliven the campus each spring. Professor Novinski hopes the replacement process continues—there
are, in fact, about 20 mature trees in his garden ready to be planted.
For many years he gave a lecture about the Rome Program to prospective students and
their parents. Often such Visit Days happen during the brownest part of the year so
he included campus pictures of the flowering peaches. As alumni brought their children
to learn about UD he would offer a tree to alumni parents. There are UD Peppermint
trees spread about the nation now.
Beatrice Haggerty and Novinski became close friends over the many years of her great
patronage. Each spring he carried an armful of blossoms to her home. On her 90th birthday three of the peach trees were planted in her home garden.
They came here so that someday, they can go back with even more to offer. Sana Kandalan, MA '19, and Anmar Oghanna, MBA '19, a wife and husband, both received scholarships to pursue graduate education at UD; they hope to use their degrees and experiences here to better serve their community back home in Erbil.
During their freshman year, a mere nine miles from the UD campus, President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22, 1963. Kennedy's famous words, "Ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man," were imprinted on the memories of these freshmen, influencing the development of their characters and philanthropic spirits and empowering them to serve with distinction in all types of vocations.
After happening across the early biophilosopher Jakob von Uexküll as a freshman biology major, Professor of Psychology Scott Churchill began peering into the worlds of animals through what Uexküll called the "spiritual eye" rather than our physical one; there, he discovered the animal spirit.