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.
This past 2017-18 school year, the University of Dallas began an exchange program with the Catholic University of Avila (Universidad Católica de Ávila, or UCAV) in Spain, sponsored by the European Union's Erasmus program. In August 2017, UD hosted a faculty and a staff member from UCAV here in Irving; in May and July 2018, faculty and staff from UD visited Avila, a medieval fortress city with numerous churches and historical associations with St. Theresa.
The University of Dallas Board of Trustees is pleased to share several updates regarding the search for a new university president. Richard Husseini, BS '88, current vice chair of the board and executive committee member, will chair the search committee for a new university president. This committee represents a cross section of the UD community, including trustees, faculty, an academic dean, a National Alumni Board representative, a member with senior staff experience, and the current student government president.
Nearly a year ago, when Hurricane Harvey hit, Houston, Beaumont and surrounding areas endured a natural disaster of unforeseen proportions. The process of rebuilding has been long and arduous, and this past spring, UD's Alternative Spring Break program took students down to Beaumont to join in the efforts through Operation Blessing, the division of Catholic Mission Trips in charge of Hurricane Harvey relief.