Transportation to Botanical Gardens

Transportation for Classes and Student Groups to Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Getting to the Gardens

In this program, Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum works with faculty and student groups to schedule and cover costs for on-demand transportation to the Botanical Gardens for classes or small groups of students that currently have no access to the Gardens. Transportation is provided through Parking and Transportation Services or through an outside vendor.


While some semester-long classes scheduled at the Gardens enjoy U-M blue bus transportation, most classes and small groups do not. And with the Botanical Gardens about six miles from central campus, students without cars are unable to access the Botanical Gardens’ resources. Getting students out to the Gardens—preferably in sustainable and ecologically sensitive ways—is a high priority for Matthaei-Nichols. Further supporting the need for regular transportation to the Gardens, polls of students show transportation to Matthaei as a desirable option.

After the U-M Campus Farm opened at Matthaei in 2012 the need to bring more students to the Botanical Gardens became even greater. The Campus Farm has drawn praise and support from Mary Sue Coleman and university administrators, and since its inception the farm’s popularity and profile have grown dramatically.

Success Story

A pilot transportation program funded in 2013 with a Quick Wins grant from the Provost’s office proved to be a great success. The Botanical Gardens experienced a 200% increase in the number of different classes using the facilities—from 16 classes in fall 2012 to 33 classes in fall 2013. Seventy-five percent of those used transportation provided by the TLTC funds.

One faculty member who is particularly enthusiastic about the transportation program is Franc Nunoo-Quarcoo, professor of art at the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design. The free transportation allowed his class, which is not regularly scheduled at the Gardens, to take advantage of the flexibility of visiting Matthaei on demand. Immersion in the site, Nunoo-Quarcoo says, is also integral to his class, Symbols and Signs. Class goals include creating signs and symbols for the plants in the medicinal garden, scheduled to open in 2015 at the Botanical Gardens. The project lets students “engage the site and get an intimate understanding of it,” he says, an experience that expands their horizons beyond the classroom. Since the class is project based, he adds,” it helps that they engage in sites and programs at the university, especially as a learning tool.”

The classes and students/faculty and staff that use the on-demand transportation come from a broad range of units on campus, including College of Engineering; Earth and Environmental Sciences; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Museum Studies; Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design; Program in the Environment; Rackham School of Graduate Studies (leadership team retreat); School of Information; School of Music, Theatre, and Dance; and several others.

Prof Nunoo-Quarcoo-Stamps art class-Matthaei

Project Team:

Robert E. Grese, Professor, School of Natural Resources
James E. Crowfoot, Professor Emeritus, School of Natural Resources and LSA Program in the Environment
Jessica Fogel, Professor of Dance, SoMTD
Johannes Foufopoulos, Associate Professor, School of Natural Resources
MaryCarol Hunter, Associate Professor, School of Natural Resources
Elizabeth Goodenough, Lecturer, LSA, Residential College
Ines Ibanez, Assistant Professor, School of Natural Resources
Robyn J. Burnham, Associate Professor, LSA
Petra Kuppers, Professor, LSA, SoMTD, and School of Art and Design
Paul Berry, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, LSA
Elizabeth Goodenough, Residential College, LSA
Jong-Jin Kim, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Lorelle Meadows, College of Engineering
Anne Mondro, Penny Stamps College of Art&Design
Michael Shriberg, Program in the Environment/Michigan Community Scholars Program, LSA
Ray Silverman, History of Art/African American Studies, LSA; Museum Studies, Rackham