Donnelly Greenhouse is a "hidden campus sanctuary"

It was a coincidence that John Mesaros became manager of the Donnelly Greenhouse. “I was studying for my geology class when the previous greenhouse crew walked into the classroom,” Mesaros said. “Immediately after I struck up a conversation with them, they asked me if I was going to be around for the summer.”

Mesaros visits the greenhouse every few days, working with Emma Butzler to maintain the greenhouse plants. They ensure the plants are healthy, watered, and have enough space to grow. 

Despite the care put into the greenhouse, it is somewhat of a secret garden on campus. The main entrance to the greenhouse is through a classroom in the basement of Donnelly. There are two outer doors that lead into the Donnelly parking lot, but they are generally locked for safety reasons. 

The greenhouse was added to Donnelly when the building was renovated in 1989. Dr. William T. Perrotte, a former biology professor, encouraged the architect to build the greenhouse due to his hope to pass his love of botany to his students. The space was dedicated to Perrotte when he passed away in 1991 because of his commitment to studying the environment. 

Perrotte helped plan the designs for the greenhouse with painstaking care. He had special windows installed that are on controlled thermostats so the temperature in the greenhouse will remain warm enough for the plants. He also found specific sinks that would water the plant roots and then installed another type of sink to water the plants normally. 

With the special additions to the greenhouse, students like Mesaros can practice caring for the plants in a controlled environment in which the plants have the best chance of flourishing. 

Realizing this, environmental science professor, Dr. Richard Feldman, encourages all of his students to get involved in the care for the greenhouse to get both field experience and to learn leadership skills.  

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